Last year when Andy and I knew we were going to Brussels, I started doing some research to learn more about the city. We were lucky enough to visit while the flower carpet was on display, which only happens for a few days every two years. We got to enjoy tasty beer, chocolate, fries, and waffles, plus so much other great food. We also went around photographing Brussels’ three peeing statues. But the one thing I read about ahead of time that wasn’t on the itinerary was Mini Europe.
What is Mini Europe?
Mini Europe is a European Union themed park located near the famous Atomium. There are miniature versions of the highlights of the countries in the EU. It sounded super cheesy, and I had to go see it. Plus the city is planning on closing it at the end of the summer (to put in a shopping mall) so I felt like this was my last chance. (Update: Several years later, it appears to be open still, so I think the shopping mall plan was overruled. Yay!)
At the start of each country’s display is a sign showing the name, capital city, land area, population, currency and year they joined the EU. Some countries had big displays with a variety of cities, while others had just one or two, mostly depending on the size of the country.
Getting creative with models
Some of the countries were fairly standard, just what you would expect, such as windmills as one of the displays for the Netherlands. But then others got a bit more creative. The United Kingdom had the parliament building and Big Ben for London, and next to it was a small train station. Didn’t seem like much, until we went a little further and saw where the miniature train was going.
There was some water set up along with the white cliffs of Dover and some big ships. As we continued, we looked at the train again and saw it going through a plastic tube. A little ways ahead, where the train ended up, was Paris. Suddenly it hit is, that tube in the water was the Channel Tunnel!
Germany had several different cities represented, but the most famous was Berlin. They had the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, including a piece of the wall being knocked down.
In the France section, they had a model of the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, complete with an airplane taxiing on the runway and sound effects to make it seem as though one of the planes was taking off.
Is that a joke?
Some of the displays were set up in a way that made us think the people who designed the park certainly had a sense of humor. Like Luxembourg, whose only model was a bridge with traffic on it.
Croatia will be the newest member of the EU at the beginning of July, and Mini Europe already has a spot for it. However, it is currently just roped off with a little “Welcome Croatia” sign, waiting until membership is official.
Comparing to places I’ve been
One of the fun things about walking around Mini Europe was seeing places I’ve been to. I thought some of the models could pass for the real thing while others definitely looked like toys. The real place is shown first, followed by the Mini Europe version.
Brussels flower carpet:
Visiting Mini Europe
To get to Mini Europe, take tram 7 or 51, or metro 6. The stop is called Heysel, and you will see the Atomium. Tickets to get into Mini Europe cost 14.20€ per person. If you want to go to Mini Europe and one of the other nearby attractions, such as the Atomium, there are combo tickets available.
But if you want to visit, go soon! There is a petition to keep Mini Europe open (which we signed on our way out) but who knows if it will succeed in keeping this wonderful and cheesy attraction open.
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- 7 Smallest Countries in Europe
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Belgium
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- Wandering Through Windmills Near Amsterdam