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Tiny Towns: Theme Parks in Miniature

Though the most traditional miniature replicas are created in 1/12th scale, the world of miniatures is experiencing an increasing amount of variety in the scale of replica pieces. For example, it is not uncommon to now find micro-miniature objects recreated in sizes as small as 1/48th scale.

On the other end of the spectrum, miniature theme parks create smaller versions of international landmarks in a number of different scales. These parks transform recognizable attractions into more interactive pieces that visitors can view at eye level.

One of the most well known of these parks, Miniaturk, is located in Istanbul, Turkey. The park spans an area of 650,000 sq ft. (60,000 sq m.) and displays the entire city of Istanbul in 1:25th scale as well as a few other popular destinations from across the nation.

The park includes the most important city landmarks, such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, as well as to-scale recreations of historical landmarks, such as the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, and other now extinct structures, and does not skip on the fine details, including miniature replica houses and trails in the residential portions of the city. A replica of the Bosporus flows through the center of the park.

In Beijing, China, Beijing World Park spans an area of more than five million square feet (467,000 sq m.) and provides visitors a “taste” of the world without the need to leave the city limits.

The park contains 109 landmarks from nearly 40 countries and 5 of the 7 continents in 1:25th scale. The park includes replicas of such well known sites as the Pyramid of Giza, the Taj Mahal, Notre Dame Cathedral and, of course, the Statue of Liberty and Golden Gate Bridge.

Despite the growing number of newer miniature parks, the Panorama of the City of New York in the Queens Museum in Queens, New York continues to be one of the most iconic and popular miniature “parks” in the world. Though its 1:1200 scale buildings are significantly smaller than the aforementioned attractions, the exhibit covers an area of 9335 sq ft. (867.2 sq m.).

The panorama was originally created as an exhibit for the 1964 World’s Fair and included every building, road, park, bridge and waterway in all 5 boroughs of New York. In 1992, the exhibit was updated and now includes all buildings in the city up until that year.

As of late, new miniature parks have been popping up all around the world and can now be found on almost every continent—from Italia in Miniatura to Mini Israel to the Teotihuacan Diorama in Mexico. Each of these parks serves as an opportunity to learn about the culture and history of its respective nation, and, most importantly, a chance to marvel at mini-architectural masterpieces.

(Okay, we admit, culture and history is pretty important too. But we tend to have a one track mind when it comes to Miniatures!)

(photo credits: Istanbul for 91 Days, World's Best Travel Places, Daily Telegraph, Queens Museum)

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