An Ersatz Eiffel Tower Stands in the Center of a Chinese Ghost Town

What’s the Eiffel Tower doing in the middle of  rural China? The answer, apparently, is nothing.

A farmer tills the field under the Eiffel Tower replica at the Tianducheng development in Hangzhou August 1, 2013.”

A 354-foot-tall ersatz Eiffel is the centerpiece to Tianducheng, a gated community replete with its own Arc de Triomphe and other Francophile architecture just outside the capital of Zheijiang province. The Bilbao Effect mantra of “Build it, and they will come,” took hold of developers when construction began in 2007, and although the phantom luxury housing market assured that 10,000 residents would be easy to find, they still have yet to arrive, as a recent Reuters photo series shows. Apart from the farmers living in their traditional homes on the fringes of the community, it appears that the people in the area are mostly visiting newlyweds in search of a compelling backdrop to their post-nuptial photoshoots.

Vice recently documented the same phenomenon in Thames Town, a similarly empty and exorbitantly priced European knock-off just outside of Shanghai. There, brides can pose in front of quaint British architecture and charming red phone booths without leaving the country. Both communities speak to a decade-long trend of expensive European simulcra popping up throughout China, now finally showing the worth of white elephants. [h/t Atlantic Cities]

— Janelle Zara

Image by Aly Song via Reuters, Matthew Niederhauser