At Melide's Swissminiatur, close to Lugano, you can visit Switzerland... in an hour. In the short while, enough for a walk in a blossoming park with over 1500 plant species, you can admire the Swiss Confederation's most representative monuments: castles, historic buildings, churches, cathedrals, rustic houses, railways, mountains and lakes. Everything rigorously rebuilt in a 1:25 scale. The outdoor museum offers, on a 14,000 square meter surface, over 120 miniature models and a dense railway network with 18 trains and 3,500 meters of tracks.
It's truly fascinating to enter the world of Swissminiatur and see the convoys transiting over bridges and through tunnels only to stop at the train stations; to watch the boats floating on the lakes; to see the cable cars and funiculars ascending and descending the mountains; to glimpse at the cars rushing by on the freeways...
Every year over 200 thousand tourists from around the world visit this park located on the banks of Lake Ceresio (from Lugano it is also easily accessible by boat) and surrounded by mountains including Monte Generoso, San Salvatore and San Giorgio (the latter is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
The self-service restaurant offers Ticinese and Italian culinary specialties next to Asian dishes prepared by cooks from Hong Kong and Malaysia. For younger visitors, there is a play area and a passenger train.
"Ours is a family business - explains Director Dominique Vuigner -. It was the idea of my father and an acquaintance of his, inspired by the Madurodam a similar park in Holland. To choose the location of the park the two of them went all over Switzerland in search of the perfect match. In the end, their attention was brought to Melide, also thanks to the extraordinary landscape between lake and mountains. Initially - continues Vuigner - there were 10-12 models built on the premises and the visitors were mostly Italian tourists coming to Switzerland to shop. Little by little, the offer grew and by the 1980s there were already around 100 models. Today, we are equipped with 120 miniature modes, a thick railway network, lakes, bridges, freeways, cable cars and funiculars. The structures of the models are built by a French specialist, while the final details are done in the Swissminiatur laboratories."