Travel the World Without Ever Leaving China
China either has some serious architecture-envy, or they’re just big proponents of world exploration without stepping foot outside of the country. The Sydney Opera House, Paris, Venice, London—you name it, China’s probably copied it. Reasons are unclear, but you know what they say: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
In 2001, Shanghai launched a building initiative called “One City, Nine Towns.” The idea was to create nine towns that replicated different European styles of architecture as satellite cities around Shanghai that would draw residents into smaller towns in the hopes to decrease Shanghai’s ballooning population. The result was a handful of replicated European mock-villages, some of which were extremely expensive to create. Many have since essentially become ghost towns. Ahead: the “One City, Nine Towns” replicas, along with a few other faux destinations around China.
Hallstatt in Guangdong
The Chinese replica of the Austrian mountain village Hallstatt—also a UNESCO World Heritage Site,— is a residential village located in the province Guangdong. China shelled out $940 million to replicate Hallstatt, complete with a proportionally accurate village center and a man-made lake.
Paris in Tianducheng
Not far from Shanghai lies Tianducheng, a replica of the City of Love. The main attraction is a 354-foot copy of the Eiffel Tower. The residential town is meant to hold 10,000 people, however, only 2,000 people currently reside there—and judging by the steep price tag on the apartments and the reportedly low standard of living, it doesn’t look like Tianducheng will see an increase in population anytime soon.
Holland in Pudong
Canals, windmills, and the Netherlands Maritime Museum: Holland Town in Pudong,—also referred to as “Pudong’s Nederland”—is a village made up of assorted Dutch buildings and landmarks, close to downtown Shanghai.
Sweden in Shanghai
Outside of Shanghai in Luodian lies a town that imitates Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia. It’s supposed to resemble the Swedish town of Sigtuna, but also has a replica of Lake Malaren and Iceland’s House of Parliament. Like many other mock-European towns, you won’t find many locals.
Thames Town in Shanghai
Thames Town, located close to central Shanghai, has it all: the Tudor style homes, all-brick everything, red phone booths, a statue of Winston Churchill, and—of course—a faux Thames River. This town was built to house 10,000 people and unlike the rest of these faux cities, it’s actually come close to that number of residents,.
Anting German Town in Shanghai
In this German-style town outside of Shanghai, complete with canals and colorful apartment buildings, it’s rumored that only one in five apartments are occupied. The kicker: The town’s capacity is 50,000 people.
Breeza City di Pujiang in Shanghai
Out of all of the series replicas, Breeze Citta di Pujiang is the least recognizable. Though its name hints that it is modeled after an Italian city, the small town doesn’t feature much—other than a very small population.
Florentia Village in Tianjin
Florentia Village in the port city of Tianjin is actually is not a village, but rather an elabroate shopping mall built to resemble Venice. The mall is complete with canals, gondola rides, fountains, and features some of the most prominent Italian designers (think: Prada and Gucci)
London's Tower Bridge in Sizhou
Located in the city Suzhou, within the province of Jiangsu, there stands a near-exact replica of London’s Tower Bridge. Reasons for building the bridge are unknown, but many speculate that it may be a testament to China’s admiration for Western architecture.
Château de Maisons-Laffitte in Beijing
This French-replica hotel (Zhang Laffitte) was constructed using the original blueprints of the actual Château de Maisons-Laffitte in France, complete with a spa and a museum.
Jackson Hole, China
Originally, this Jackson Hole replica was built to entice Beijing locals looking to escape the city hustle for a weekend. As it turns out, many people who are fans of Western culture have turned the town into their permanent home. Great Big Story recently paid the mountainside town a visit and met with a few of the locals.
Pont Alexandre III in Tianjin
This bridge was built to replicate the Parisian Arch Bridge. Unlike its French counterpart, it’s made out of cement.
Shanghai Minhang People’s Court
The Shanghai Minhang People’s Court building was built in 2001, and very clearly blends the architecture style of the White House and the Capital Building.
Manhattan in Tianjin, China
Faux-Manhattan sits partially finished in the center of an ancient fishing town called Tianjin, which was entirely demolished to allow for the construction of this city that was never completed. Construction of this mini-Manhattan, set to be finished in 2019, has taken a pause. As a result, the town is basically deserted.
Window of the World in Shenzen
In Shenzen’s Window of the World theme park, there are 130 replicas of world tourist attractions, including L’Arc de Triomphe, Le Louvre, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican, the Taj Mahal, and more.
Huaxi is one of the wealthiest villages in China, and home to a “World Park” that is filled with replicas of tourist attractions from across the globe. Landmarks include the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China, and many more. It is said that the residents of Huaxi work so hard and so often that they have no time to travel, so instead they visit their World Park to see important world landmarks.