China has long been a destination for tourists keen to stock up on fake designer handbags and electronics, but they have also been copying western buildings and even whole towns for years.
China is home to full-scale replicas of some very iconic structures, including the Eiffel Tower, White House, Sydney Opera House, and Great Sphinx of Giza. These “copycat” villages and theme parks are tourism-gold.
Tower Bridge is arguably one of London’s most impressive and well-known landmarks. A replica of the bridge in China is twice the size of the original.
The structure, which spans a river in the city of Suzhou, is 40 metres tall, and has four towers instead of two, and cost the country R170 million (£9.4 million) to build, according to The Sun.
Many of the copycat towns, based on villages in the UK or towns in the Austrian Alps, are almost completely empty but they are a big hit with investors and tourists, who like to visit for the novelty factor.
In ‘Thames Town’ a town near Shanghai, visitors can walk along cobbled streets and make phone calls from quintessentially British red telephone boxes.
Bianca Bosker, the author of Original Copies (a book about China’s Western-themed architecture) says China has a tradition of architectural mimicry that goes back over two thousand years.
“In the third century BC, for example, Emperor Qin Shi Huang celebrated his defeat of rival kingdoms by building replicas of their palaces in his own capital city,” Bosker told Forbes.
Other rulers showed off their authority by building elaborate gardens that were pre-modern versions of today’s theme parks. That past is key for understanding the present.”
See the photos and decide for yourself if these Chinese knock-offs hold up to the originals.
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