The plan to build a copy of Angkor Wat in India caused shock and dismay. Why asks David Robson, when replica buildings are such a familiar phenomenon?

Description: buildings at the Wild West-themed Jackson Hole development

Buildings at the Wild West-themed Jackson Hole development

Thanks to the Beijing Resplendency Great Exploit Real Estate Company Ltd, second-homes from China’s capital need only drive two hours north from the city and they’re in the American Wild West. The 850 houses in Jackson Hole, Hebei Province, are built from plans – loosely based on the Jackson Hole in Wyoming – drawn up by a US architect and tricked out with antler chandeliers, wagon wheels, Navajo rugs and so forth supplied by Allison Smith, a designer from Portland, Oregon.

Description: the Great Wall in China

the Great Wall in China

“I was dropped off in an undeveloped area 150 miles outsides the Great Wall and simply told, “Please design vacation homes,” says Smith. She offered a number of options, including versions of Martha’s Vineyard and Vail. But the developer with the resplendent name fell in love with cowboy country. And so did its customers.

Description: An English village in the Shanghai

An English village in the Shanghai

For a very different sensation, a short ride out of Shanghai takes you to an English town, or at least a strange version thereof: gabled Edwardian houses with privet hedges, a mock-Tudor pub selling real ale, a village green, a chippy and a church modeled on Bristol’s St Mary Redcliffe. This is Thames Town. Nearby are other towns intended to replicate Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany – picturesque locations for wedding photographs and sightseeing, but also places where quite well-to-do Chinese people choose to live.

One way to experience wonderful things is to travel; another is to try them at home. When Blackpool’s mayor, John Bickerstaffe, visited Paris for the Exposition Universelle in 1889, he was impressed by the new Eiffel Tower. “We should have one of those,” he thought, and within five years Blackpool did; the tower has been a major attraction ever since. It is not an exact copy, being half the height of the original and having a building at the bottom so its feet don’t touch the ground. But there are plenty of more faithful ersatz Eiffel Towers around the world. The Paris Las Vegas hotel has a half-height one and a two-thirds-size Arc de Triomphe. It’s a small world in Vegas: just along the strip is the Venetian hotel and casino, with palazzo-lined canals and gondolas.


Description: the Eiffel Tower in China

a copy of the Eiffel Tower in China

Near the city of Hangzhou in China’s Zhejiang Province there’s a more expansive version of Paris than the one in Vegas: as well as the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe (of course) it has the Champ de Mars and Parisian-style buildings to house 100,000 people. And as a bonus you also get the great fountain from Versailles.

Description: A copy of Taj Mahal in China

A copy of Taj Mahal in China

About 15km from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, a wealthy local film-maker has built a full-size replica of the Taj Mahal. He has done it, he says, so that people too poor to travel to Agra to see the world’s most beautiful building will not be denied its delights. It has taken five years to build, a quarter of the time required for the 17th-century original, and it has caused annoyance in India. An Indian project to create a replica of Cambodia’s great Hindu shirne Angkor Wat on the banks of the Ganges has caused fury. A Cambodian government spokesman said that copying his country’s most famous building was “a shameful act”. Oddly, a newly built replica of Stonehenge in Western Australia has caused hardly a ripple in Wiltshire.

Description: copy of the famous Greek Parthenon in China

copy of the famous Greek Parthenon in China

You’ve never been to Athens, never seen the Parthenon? People from Tennessee don’t have to go all that way: there’s a full-size replica of the temple in a park in Nashville. Built is 1897 of plaster, wood and brick as a temporary structure for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, it was rebuilt in concrete three decades later. Unlike the Athens Parthenon, it has a 42ft-tall statue of Athena at its centre. Made in 1990, it is based on scholarly studies of the original, which was lost in the fifth century. If Greeks want to see Athena (admittedly made of gypsum and fibre glass under her gold leaf), they can always find her in the home of country-and-western music.

The marbles that decorated the Parthenon’s pediments are reproduced in plaster in Nashville. Some of the originals are in the Acropolis Museum in Athens; but many more, of course, are in the British Museum. Thanks to Lord Elgin, the British did not have to copy the marbles; he liked the look of them so much he had them brought back to England.

If China’s imitation English, French and Wild West towns are the products of the country’s new-found wealth seeking novelty, the old money of old England was often equally dissatisfied with that was on offer at home and sought to capture the magic of abroad by stealing or reproducing it. Many of Britain’s great houses dating from the 17th and 18th centuries are copies of the work of Andrea Palladio, the 16th-century Venetian architect, himself an interpreter of Greek and Roman classicism.

The razzmatazz of Las Vegas and the wholesale mimicry of China’s Thames Town may seem far removed from the most refined of Britain’s great Palladian houses, but they have this in common: they offer you the flavor of another place, and perhaps another time, without the need to go to the country to which they belong. It’s like travelling without travelling, the most environmentally friendly form of tourism.

Top search
- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
- Losing Weight In A Week With Honey
- Can You Eat Crab Meat During Pregnancy?
- 4 Kinds Of Fruit That Can Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
- Some Drinks Pregnant Women Should Say No With
- Signs Proving You Have Boy Pregnancy
- Why Do Pregnant Women Have Stomachache When Eating?
- Top Foods That Pregnant Women Should Be Careful Of
- 6 Kinds Of Vegetable That Increase Risk Of Miscarriage
- The Real Riviera (Part 3) - From St Tropez to Cassis
- The Real Riviera (Part 2) - From Cannes to St Tropez
- The Real Riviera (Part 1) - From Menton to Cannes
- Soul Surfing (Part 2)
- Soul Surfing (Part 1)
- London Looks East (Part 3)
- London Looks East (Part 2)
- London Looks East (Part 1)
- All About Evora (Part 3)
- All About Evora (Part 2)
- All About Evora (Part 1)
- Toronto - Around Town - Harbourfront & the Financial District (part 2) - An Art Walk
- Toronto - Around Town - Harbourfront & the Financial District (part 1)
- Boston's Top 10 : Boston Harbor Islands
- Boston's Top 10 : Waterfront Areas - Top 10 Views
- New York's Top 10 : New York Stores
- New York's Top 10 : Festivals and Events - Top 10 Sports Events
- Paris Top 10 : Children's Attractions
- Paris Top 10 : Entertainment Venues - Top 10 Films set in Paris
- London's Top 10 : Pubs
Top keywords
Miscarriage Pregnant Pregnancy Pregnancy day by day Pregnancy week by week Losing Weight Stress Placenta Makeup Collection
Top 5
- 5 Ways to Support Your Baby Development
- 5 Tips for Safe Exercise During Pregnancy
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 2)
- Four Natural Ways Alternative Medicine Can Help You Get Pregnant (part 1)
- Is Your Mental Health Causing You to Gain Weight (part 2) - Bipolar Disorder Associated with Weight Gain