Chinese Towns with Châteaus and Pubs

421040590_416a162457If imitation truly is the greatest form of flattery, then many in China believe that flattery will get them everywhere.

Over the past decade, China has experienced a boom in the building of look-alike cities and structures, fashioned after architecture from non-Chinese locales. Leading the trend is Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Towns” project, building foreign-inspired housing developments to draw residents out of the city’s crowded center—though it seems that the people have been a little reluctant to make the move.

There’s been a bunch written about the carbon-copy construction—lots of photos, too. Here are links to some of the articles around the Web:

Welcome To the Bizarre Chinese Ghost Town That Looks Like It Was Plucked from the British Countryside
(Julie Zeveloff, Business Insider, June 14, 2011)
“Thames Town is not nestled in the British countryside; it’s located in the northeast corner of China in Songjiang, near Shanghai. And it didn’t grow gradually over hundreds of years.”

Anting New Town: Car Museum, Cafes and Homes, but No People
(CNN Travel, September 24, 2010)
“The Anting New Town development was designed by Albert Speer, the son of Hitler’s favorite architect, to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants in apartment buildings and stand-alone houses.”

Going Dutch: Shanghai’s “Holland Town” Brings Europe to the City
(Mathias Guillin, CNN Travel, July 8, 2010)
“Life in Shanghai can be a bit monotonous: work, party, brunch and then do it all over again the next weekend. If you need to break things up and don’t want to hop on plane, head over the river and check out Pudong’s Nederland, aka ‘Holland Town.'”

Luodian—a Slice of Sweden in China
(Ulrika K Engström,, February 10, 2006)
“Luodian is a fully fledged copy of a Scandinavian town. Even the weather seems to have been specially imported to this newly built development in Baoshan, one of 16 districts in Shanghai.”

China: Shanghai: Citta di Pujiang
(Bret Wallach, The Great Mirror)
“An Italian city in Shanghai? But of course: this is another of Shanghai’s new towns, like Thames Town, but in this case Venice. Well, that’s what you’ll read in the press, but this new town doesn’t ape Europe: it has lots of water, in other words, but an intensely modern architectural style.”

China Builds Its Own Eiffel Tower
(Metro News, September 21, 2007)
“Chinese architects copied the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the famous fountain in the gardens of the Palace of Versaille to make their own version of the French capital. Famous buildings and Parisienne style gardens are surrounded by rows of European-style villas where up to 100,000 Chinese people will live in a special gated community called Tianducheng just outside Shanghai.”

Made in China: An Austrian Village
(Reuters, June 5, 2012)
“A $940 million Chinese clone of one of Austria’s most picturesque villages, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hallstatt, recently opened its doors to visitors in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong amidst some controversy.”

Photos: Jiangsu City Has Four Fake US Capitols
(Michael Evans, Shanghaiist, December 3, 2012)
“The Jiangsu city of Wuxi is home to not one, not two, but four buildings with a less-than-coincidental resemblance to the US Capitol.”

Village Uses Famous Site Replicas to Draw Tourists
(Wang Hongyi, China Daily, October 12, 2011)
“[T]ourists can also see replicas of the US Capitol building, the Arch of Triumph in France and the Sydney Opera House by going to Huaxi village, which is deemed the richest village in China.”

Dorset Town is Re-built in China
(BBC News, July 26, 2007)
“A town in China has been modelled on Dorchester after planners saw the town’s picture on a Christmas card. The development in Chengdun, Sichuan province, named British Town, is complete with mock Victorian and Georgian architecture.”

Mr. Zhang Builds His Dream Town
(James Fallows, The Atlantic, March 2007)
“After lunch, Zhang thanked the guests for coming and invited them to spend time seeing some of the other highlights of Broad Town: the 130-foot-high gold-colored replica of an Egyptian pyramid, for instance.”

China’s Elite Learn to Flaunt It while the New Landless Weep
(Joseph Kahn, The New York Times, December 24, 2004)
“Chateau Zhang Laffitte is no ordinary imitation. It is the oriental twin of Château Maisons-Laffitte, the French architect François Mansart’s 1650 landmark on the Seine. Its symmetrical facade and soaring slate roof were crafted using the historic blueprints, 10,000 photographs and the same white Chantilly stone. . . . ‘It cost me $50 million,’ Mr. Zhang said. ‘But that’s because we made so many improvements compared with the original.'”

Château China: $30 Million “Hobby”
(Sheila Melvin, The New York Times, January 10, 2006)
“The town of Changli, in Hebei Province, resembles any other nondescript county seat in northern China. . . . But just outside the town center is a 200-hectare, or 500-acre, vineyard replete with a state-of-the-art wine production facility; a villa with tasting rooms and restaurants; a three-story wine school; a luxury hotel, and an immense private château. The Tuscan-style complex is so opulent and incongruous in the Hebei countryside that it at first seems like a mirage.”

Related Post:
Shanghai Calling: “Come Home”

[photo: “07/02/23 15:10:06 Shanghai,” by 2 Dogs, used under a Creative Commons license]