Madurodam - Holland in Miniature
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Madurodam – Holland in Miniature
No visit to the Netherlands is complete without taking in Madurodam on the outskirts of The Hague. Miss out anything else and it won’t matter because you’ll find it there, albeit on a scale of 1:25.
The Peace Palace is there. You can see the queen arriving at the opening of parliament at The Hague’s Binnenhof. Castles and palaces; churches and street markets; windmills and bulb fields; the Rotterdam Euromast in its lovely garden setting; the streets and canals of Amsterdam; even Schipol Airport is there with moving aircraft.
Staff at Madurodam make their own models, calculating the dimensions from architect’s drawings. They study photographs of all the details to get everything exactly right. Buildings are placed in natural looking environments and miniature parks and gardens, with real plants which have to be pruned, drastically and regularly, down to the scale required.
A look at the short but fascinating history of Madurodam demonstrates its connection to the Caribbean, as well as to a Dutch sanatorium.
The Maduro family hailed from Curacao, an island of the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean. Their son, George, came to Leiden to study law, and was there in the early days of the war, when his courageous activities were to win him the honour of the Military Order of William I. Sadly he wasn’t alive to receive it, as he was imprisoned in Dachau and died there of typhus shortly before it was liberated. His parents were considering some kind of monument to their brave son when they met Mrs. Boon-van der Starp.
After the war, she had been seeking the best way to raise money to support the Dutch Student Sanatorium in Laren, specifically for students who had tuberculosis and needed to continue studying. She knew of a model town in England where the owner had been able to donate to hospitals from the revenue it generated, and thought of doing something similar. Mr and Mrs Maduro were impressed and felt this small city could be a fitting memorial to their son.
So a partnership was born and Madurodam opened in 1952. George Maduro’s memorial is visited by thousands and its profits go to charity. Now that TB has been virtually eradicated, the model city has a Support Fund Society, which donates to a variety of projects for young people.
In return, the young people of The Hague supply a Youth Council, with representatives elected for two year terms, and with its own mayor and officials to perform ceremonial duties. Until 1980 when Princess Beatrix became Queen, she took the role of Mayor of Madurodam. Now the mayor is chosen from among the members of the Youth Council.
The model city opens at 9 am every day. Closing time is 6 pm in the fall and winter, 8 pm in the spring and 11 pm in high summer. Special illuminated evening visits outside of these hours are also organized from time to time.
Don’t forget to make this a highlight of your visit to Holland and The Hague. Remember the war hero, George Maduro, and be glad that, while you sample the miniature features of The Netherlands, some of the money you spend will be helping the youth of today and tomorrow.
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