Santarama Miniland – The broken Lilliput of the South


Want to feel like Gulliver in a broken little city? Then Santarama Miniland in Rosettenville is the place to visit.

Santarama Miniland – The broken Lilliput of the South

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If you went to school in Joburg’s affluent suburbs in the 1980s, chances are you’ve been to Joburg’s Lilliputian wonder — the Santarama Miniland in Rosettenvile, south of Joburg. Sadly, it seems that this once bustling miniature theme park has not changed much since then. Having fallen into disrepair, it’s now like a ghost-town version of Lilliput, if Lilliput had been modelled on Joburg. Which is why it has made it onto our quirky list as an ideal place to take eerie, arty pics and hone your photographic skills.

santarama

According to the City of Joburg’s web page, the park promises great things: “Embark on a fascinating journey through South African history by viewing more than 80 scale models of prominent landmarks. This fantasy city is made tangible by the sound and movement added to the models. Enjoy a tranquil ferry ride on the Wemmer Pan and board the majestic full-size model of Jan van Riebeeck’s galleon, the Dromedaris. Indulge in beverages and delicious light meals at the licensed Model Bar & Restaurant while the kids frolic on the jungle gym or on the mini-golf course. A fun-packed day out for the whole family!”

The reality of the situation is quite the opposite. On entering the park, a giant, rather ominous and derelict statue of Jan van Riebeeck greets visitors. The park itself is filled with many bizarre tributes to a bygone era, showcasing Settler Joburg with tiny broken models. The entire park feels as if it was a forgotten part of Banksy’s Dismaland exhibit. Its dilapidation has progressed from being shameful to being a poignant but apt reminder of the past.

According to the media, the site seems to be undergoing renovations to bring this old family favourite into the 21st century. However, it seems a slow and underfunded process, and visitors expecting a Gold Reef City-style theme park experience will be bitterly disappointed.

For the photo-hunters and city explorers, the venue offers great opportunities for weird snaps (the miniatures make for really cool perspective pics). It’s also an interesting part of Joburg’s edutainment-theme-park history.

A must-see for those who can appreciate the romance of broken things from a broken time and want some cool pics to prove they were there.

By Veronica Botes

Have you been to the Santarama Miniland lately? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

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