Santarama Miniland – The broken Lilliput of the South

Want to feel like Gulliver in a broken city? Then Santarama Miniland is the place for you.

Santarama Miniland – The broken Lilliput of the South

Contact info

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 in the South of Joburg. Sadly, it seems that this once bustling miniature theme park has not changed much since then. Having fallen into disrepair, it now has become a bit more 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. It is an ideal place to take eerie, artsy pics and hone your photographic skills.


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 whilst the kids frolic on the Jungle Jim or on the Mini Golf course. A fun packed day out for the whole family!”

The reality of the situation is quite the opposite. Upon entering the park, a giant, rather ominous yet 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 days gone by.

According to the press, the site seems to be undergoing renovations to bring this old family favourite back 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 explorer types, the venue offers great opportunities to take some eerie snaps (the miniatures make for really cool perspective pics) and is an interesting part of Joburg’s edutainment-theme-park history.

This place is a must-see for those who can appreciate the romance of broken things from a broken time and want some cool pics to prove it.

By Veronica Botes

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

Did you like this article? Then get more of the same from our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox for FREE!

2 thoughts on “Santarama Miniland – The broken Lilliput of the South

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More from Lifestyle: