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Mini Europe to leave Brussels and reopen by 2023
Mini Europe, a Brussels icon since its creation in 1989, is set to leave the capital, according to its owner and director Thierry Meeùs.
The miniature park that shows off the European Union’s most important buildings and monuments will close at the end of the year. Last month, the business announced this was because it had failed to reach an agreement to extend its contract with Brussels Expo, which runs the site.
But Meeùs is undeterred: “My daughter would like me to continue my work,” said the man who has run Mini Europe since 1998. “We have received many proposals in recent weeks to relocate.”
Around three hectares will be needed to house Mini Europe and its 350 buildings, which span 80 cities in 28 European countries, Meeùs says. The future site must also assure easy access, especially to public transport.
Towns hoping to welcome the park include Braine-l’Alleud, Wavre, Leuven, Tienen and Gerardsbergen. There have been no concrete proposals however – and a restart of the park is unlikely until 2022 or 2023, Meeùs added.
Before a new Mini Europe sees the light of day, agreements must be made on how to dismantle the current site and store the miniatures, buy a new site, obtain permits, and choose a constructor: “This involves a total €15 to €20 million investment, but fortunately we can reduce the price by about a third, as we can recuperate the existing miniature buildings.”
Meeùs is confident the park will live again: “A visit to Mini-Europe is a good two hours’ fun,” he said, saying that an ideal new start would be situating the park near another attraction, like the coast, the Ardennes or an art city like Bruges.
Mini Europe has always benefited from its proximity to the Atomium – which now, along with Brussels Design (formerly ADAM) Museum, is Heysel’s only real tourist draw, following popular water park Océade’s final splash on 31 December 2018.
Mini Europe attracted some 400,000 visitors in 2019, although far less are expected this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo: Visit Brussels