The amazing L’Iber Museo de los Solditos de Plomo in Valencia Spain lays claim to the largest collection of tin soldiers in the entire world, with over one million tiny figurines in the collection and 95,000 on display at this time. The soldiers are carefully arranged in scenes recreating famous historical battles, with a special concentration on the troops of Spain.
The scope of L’Iber’s collection is breathtaking, with over a dozen rooms loosely organized by time period. There are rooms dedicated to World War I, Napoleon, and Ancient Rome, and you can find almost every kind of soldier imaginable, from Confederates in the American Civil War to ancient Egyptians. You’ll see prehistoric hunters bringing down a mammoth, medieval warriors laying siege to walled cities, and a little Francisco Franco protected by his fearsome Moorish Guard.
In one room, there’s an amazing recreation of the Battle of Almansa, which pitted France and Spain against the rest of Europe, and was the decisive conflict in the War of Spanish Succession. Thousands of figures are deployed across a vast field, which has been brought to life in vivid detail with rivers, trees, hills and roads. If you know your stuff, you might be able to distinguish the Portuguese infantry from the Irish regiment, as well as the Dutch, the French and the English, all clad in historically-accurate uniforms.
The man behind the madness is Don Álvaro Noguera Giménez (1939-2006), who was one of Valencia’s most important 20th-century businessmen, head of the real-estate agency FICSA, and apparently an unparalleled tin soldier fetishist. His collection is set within the stately halls of the Gothic Palace of Malferit, and it’s worth the cost of admission just to see the interior of this classic Valencian residence.