Two of 215,000 models.

Two guys from Hamburg want to see the world – without leaving their home city. Their journey takes them to Miniatur Wunderland (“Miniature Wonderland”), the world’s largest model railway. Along for the ride: a W 123 on a scale of 1:87, visiting its fellow Mercedes-Benz models. For the photo story, the modelmakers in the Wonderland also shrunk this report’s author and photographer to a 1:87 scale – and now they are two out of over 200,000 characters populating the miniature world.

Only ten seconds to the Grand Canyon.

Getting from the waterside in Hamburg to the Grand Canyon in less than ten seconds is only possible in Block D of the brick-red warehouses by the river Elbe: on the fourth floor, where tea and spices from exotic countries were once stored, a Mercedes-Benz C 111 is driving at speed on the Stateway, and below it a colourful freight train is crossing the dizzying chasm.

Mercedes-Benz Classic Magazine in 1:87.

There are almost 9000 cars in the Miniature Wonderland. There might also be a miniature edition of Mercedes-Benz Classic Magazine here somewhere: there are plenty of classic cars sporting the three-pointed star. On the parking deck at Knuffingen Airport a sheikh, complete with entourage and a big cat on a leash, is getting into his Mercedes 600, in a Bavarian village a brass band marches past a white G-model parked in a driveway, while the Mille Miglia race is just negotiating the Furka Pass.

The world's largest model railway.

Wunderland is a miniature world measuring 6400 square meters: scale of 1:87, 13 kilometers of H0-gauge track, 930 trains with 14,450 railcars, 1270 signals and 3050 switches, all controlled by 46 computers. By the time the twelfth section of the layout is completed in 2020, Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg will have swallowed up 850,000 hours of work and 20 million euros. And all because more than 15 years ago, twin brothers Frederik and Gerrit Braun took it into their heads to build the largest model railway in the world.

There are also moving vehicles on the model roads.

160 of the model vehicles are able to drive by themselves. And not only that: their indicators work, they have headlamps, brake lights and even blue flashing lights. A built-in microprocessor controls their movements. The technology is so complex that the Wunderland experts need between 15 and 45 hours to build each vehicle.