Eiffel tower

Inside China’s Bizarre ‘Fake’ Monuments, Including a Copy of Tower Bridge, the Eiffel Tower and Even a Full-Size Sphinx

From a copy of London’s Tower Bridge to the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, China has unveiled a number of bizarre “fake” landmarks over the years.

English towns, Alpine villages and even the Sydney Opera House can be seen thousands of miles from the real deal.

8

A view of the Tianducheng development with the Eiffel Tower in HangzhouCredit: Reuters
The replica of the Great Sphinx at the construction site of Chuzhou Great Wall International Tourism Cartoon Creative Park

8

The replica of the Great Sphinx at the construction site of Chuzhou Great Wall International Tourism Cartoon Creative ParkCredit: Alamy
A fake version of London's Tower Bridge in Suzhou in China's eastern province of Jiangsu

8

A fake version of London’s Tower Bridge in Suzhou in China’s eastern province of JiangsuCredit: AFP or licensors

China has often profited from scamming ideas – ignoring copyright laws – or manufacturing foreign products in factories where workers are poorly paid.

But now the nation of 1.3 billion is copying entire buildings and landmarks from locked, stockpiled, and barreled foreign cities.

According to the Global Times, the “fake and shoddy versions” of the buildings appear in “many third- and fourth-tier Chinese cities”.

Built in 2012, the replica of London’s Tower Bridge in a Chinese city has been hailed as better than the original.

The model, built over a river in the city of Suzhou, measures 131 feet and is the spitting image of the famous bridge in the British capital.

Unlike the original Tower Bridge, the copied one has four turrets instead of two, allowing a double track to pass underneath.

But it’s not the only example of British architecture replicated in China.

Thames Town, in the Songjiang district near Shanghai, is full of cobbled streets, Victorian houses and local pubs.

The town even houses a medieval assembly hall and a statue of Winston Churchill.

And the Tianducheng development in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province has its own 354-foot Eiffel Tower.

The architecture and landscaping of the area mimics the Parisian style – and there is also a version of the spectacular Louvre pyramid of Paris in China.

A replica of the Titanic built in Belfast is also under construction in Sichuan province.

The extraordinary reproduction is supposed to be part of a new tourist attraction – but it has been left to rust for the past seven years.

Seven Star Energy Investment Group is behind the project, which will be permanently moored in a reservoir.

China is also home to a faux iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge.

A fake White House also sits alongside versions of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol.

In Chuzhou, a large concrete Giza Sphinx towers over an unfinished theme park.

And a model of the Parthenon in Athens has also been built in a theme park in Lanzhou, Gansu province, and an Arc de Triomphe rises over 10 meters high in Jiangyan.

Meanwhile, the Roman Coliseum in Macau seats 2,000 people and serves as an outdoor concert hall.

A replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Jiangyan District, Taizhou City

8

A replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Jiangyan District, Taizhou CityCredit: Alamy
Visitors to Beijing World Park walk through a replica of the Sydney Harbor Bridge

8

Visitors to Beijing World Park walk through a replica of the Sydney Harbor BridgeCredit: Alamy
Thames Town in Songjiang

8

Thames Town in SongjiangCredit: Wikipedia

Modeled after the Moscow Kremlin, a gold-domed complex in Beijing houses several government offices – and cost up to $3.5 million to build.

A nod to Italy, Florentia Village in Wuqing has filled some 200,000 square meters of former cornfields with Italianate architecture and bridges.

It even has a large canal running through the development.

China has also built a $940 million Hallstatt community in Huizhou, ripping off the design of a century-old village in Austria.

And more than 5,000 miles from the real deal, there’s a Leaning Tower of Pisa in Shanghai.

In 2020, the Chinese government cracked down on copies of foreign architecture to promote local design.

A government statement said “plagiarizing, imitating and copying” designs is now banned in new public facilities.

The statement said “big, foreign, and weird” designs should be limited.

It’s unclear what will happen to the existing fake buildings – but the government has said there will be ‘municipal inspections’.

Authorities have called for a “new era” of architecture to “enhance cultural confidence, show the characteristics of the city, exhibit the contemporary spirit and display Chinese characteristics”.

However, China is not the only country to copy foreign buildings.

Las Vegas is famous for its fake versions of the Eiffel Tower and the Venetian Canals.

And Thailand also has developments that mimic the Italian countryside and charming English villages.

Workers build a sidewalk outside a replica of the Roman Coliseum in Macau

8

Workers build a sidewalk outside a replica of the Roman Coliseum in MacauCredit: Alamy
A farmer plows the field near the Eiffel Tower replica at the Tianducheng development in Hangzhou

8

A farmer plows the field near the Eiffel Tower replica at the Tianducheng development in HangzhouCredit: Reuters