In the outskirts of Shanghai, China stands a fake Eiffel Tower overlooking a replica of the Champ de Mars and rows of Parisian townhouses. Behold the gated community of Tianducheng, built in 2007 by real estate develepors Zhejiang Guangsha Co. Ltd.
Very little information about the town has been made available since it’s opening in 2007. This might be because it’s one of the latest in a string of near ghost towns that reveal a very serious problem in China – a property bubble that’s about to burst.
Tianducheng can comfortably house over 100,000 people, yet the last known population of the town is around 2,000. Most people can’t afford to live in the property offered Tianducheng, and many of the apartments with Parisian-style wrought iron balconies are occupied by groups of migrant laborers working on the construction of the community and the French-themed village park next door.
This ambitious project is a perfect example of the massive over supply and over valuation of property across China. So why build? Because it promotes GDP growth – the government’s number one priority.
More than anything, the town is a popular place for young newlyweds to use for their wedding photography, using the fake Paris as a backdrop.
And the city counterfeiting doesn't end there...
This is Hallstatt, Austria:
And this is it’s Chinese knock-off:
A replica of an entire historical Austrian town of Hallstatt was unveiled in the Chinese province of Guangdong in 2012. The 940-million-dollar project was conceived by Chinese mining tycoon and backed by Minmetals Land Inc. Visitors can explore exact replicas of the historical streets and architecture found in the original Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has over 80,000 tourists visiting every year. It's like being in Europe without going there. Project developers target to sell the real estate to wealthy Chinese buyers with a taste for traditional European style.
And here's more counterfeting...
Just an hour’s drive from China’s little Paris you’ll find little London. Thames Town opened in 2006 and replicated the facades of some buildings so closely that complaints were filed by some English pub owners. Surrounded by a gated community, the center of the town looks like a historical theme park, complete with cobbled streets, Tudor-style houses, red telephone boxes, street names like Oxford or Queen, a Gothic church, and even a fake river Thames.
Here are photos from the counterfeit Thames Town:
While property was initially more popular in Thames Town than it was in fake Paris, today it’s virtually another ghost town. The only people who can afford to buy property in these theme-park towns are the super-rich, who keep it as a second/ third/ fourth home.
And here are more people using the empty streets of this European replica for the backdrop of their wedding photography…