Nope, it's not Photoshop. That really is a fake Eiffel Tower and a fake Champ de Mars alongside Parisian-style townhouses on the outskirts of Shanghai.
Aly Song | Reuters
More specifically, it's the gated community of Tianducheng, built in 2007 by developers Zhejiang Guangsha, Ltd. Strangely, there is very little information available about the counterfeit Paris and despite being a relatively new community, it's quickly becoming a ghost town in China's property bubble.
Tianducheng's population is around just 2,000, but the town can accommodate 100,000 people. The Parisian-style wrought iron balconies are currently occupied by migrant laborers working on their own community's construction. The construction of these towns promote's China’s GDP growth, which is a huge priority for the Chinese government.
Mostly, the town is used for young newlyweds to stage their wedding in Paris, using Tianducheng's fake Paris in the background.
There's also a replica for Hallstatt, Austria. This is the original Austrian version:
And this is the Chinese version:
The Hallstatt replica was built in the province of Guangdong in 2012. The project, costing more than $940 million, was the work of Minmetals Land Inc., a Chinese mining tycoon. Similar to the Paris endeavor, visitors can explore the replica’s streets and see the architecture of the original Hallstatt. Seeing that the original Hallstatt gets over 80,000 visitors each year, developers are hoping to sell their Hallstatt to wealthy Chinese people with a flair for traditional European style. (A little tourism couldn't hurt either.)
The developers didn't let anybody in the real Hallstatt know about the building. The Austrian city found out about the replica only when one of the project builders mentioned it while staying at Hallstatt hotel. “They should have asked the owners of the hotel and the other buildings if we agree with the idea to rebuild Hallstatt in China, and they did not,” says hotel owner Monika Wenger.
Little London in China
Just an hour away from China's mini-Paris, there's a Little London as well. Thames Town opened in 2006 and, surrounded by a gated community, the town's center looks like a historical theme park. The town is complete with cobbled streets, Tudor homes, red telephone boxes, a Gothic church and a fake River Thames.
Thames Town was more popular at first but now is all but deserted. The super wealthy who do own homes here keep it as a second, third or fourth home, but never as a primary residence. And, as you might imagine, it's also popular for wedding photography.
Here's a fascinating video on China's clone cities:
Credit: Messy Nessy Chic