Miniatures have a universal appeal; we love to see everyday items and buildings in miniature. For some this can become an obsession and a lifelong dream. For Pierre Vuigner, the owner of a grocery store in Grimisuat in Switzerland it was idea to create a miniature village in Switzerland after visiting a miniature park in Holland. The idea would not let go of him. Vuigner sold his store, bought land in Melide, Switzerland near Lake Lugano and convinced the then mayor Gallino that his town would be the perfect location for a miniature village. He worked with the mayor to get through all the red tape necessary for the new commercial venture in record time.
Then Vuigner got busy. Never having created miniature items before, he taught himself as he worked on the exhibits and miniature buildings. With very little capital and help the village was set to open on June 6th 1959. By opening day the Swiss Miniature Village (Swiss Miniatur) was far from done with several exhibits still under construction and unpainted. A month later after a great deal of work and overtime, the park was complete. The public loved it right from the start bringing in stellar sales. By 1960 the park was making a profit. The park included miniatures of famous buildings and natural wonders in Switzerland. A small model railway moves throughout the park.
The buildings in the open air park are built to a 1:25 scale and include a mini overview of the country of Switzerland. Surrounded by the famous Swiss mountains of the Lugano prealps including Monte Generoso, Monte San Salvatore, and Monte San Giorgio, the miniature village seems to capture the magic of the entrancing location. There are currently more than 120 models in the park including famous Swiss buildings, monuments and all kinds of miniature transportation such cable cars and funiculars running up and down the miniature mountains, and boats move on the lakes and cars run on the streets.
The park is also a horticultural beauty with more than 1,500 plants and 15,000 flowers covering the land around the miniatures. Visitors to the park can also relax and enjoy food from around the world including Chinese, Indian, Italian and Swiss cuisine in the park restaurant.
The Swiss Miniature Village is a testimony to one man’s obsession, and dedication to creating a place of beauty and fun and a place for the public to enjoy seeing life in miniature. When questioned about how and why he did it, Pierre Vuigner reportedly responded that, “My God, I have more guts than brains.” He remains proud of his accomplishment and continues to keep his eyes on the continued success of the park.