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New York Times | 1:58
HALLSTATT, a picturesque town perched high above a lake in the Austrian Alps, has had a twin in China’s southern Guangdong province since 2012.
With this 360 degree video from The New York Times (best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, MS Edge or Opera or YouTube's mobile app) it's now possible to compare and contrast the original and the replica.
Above: The town of Hallstatt, Austria, is renowned for its unique Alpine setting (image courtesy of Wikimedia/ Nick Csakany).
The Austrian settlement was once centre of a thriving early Iron Age culture. Now, due to its dramatic setting, the town of 800 people welcomes some 800,000 visitors a year.
In 2012, Minmetals Land, a real estate arm of a Chinese mining company, opened its replica of the postcard village as the centrepiece of a new suburban development aimed at attracting China’s wealthy investors.
Above: The development arm of Chinese mining company Minmetals has created this replica in the southern province of Guangdong (image courtesy of Wikimedia/Hanno Böck).
Although USD $940M was spent recreating the village, many of its 366 homes remain empty, with the surrounding development purchased by absent investors.
It has, however, become a popular tourist attraction.
Above: China's Hallstatt replica might not have lured residents, but has become a popular tourist destination in its own right ( image courtesy of HKFN/ Lukas Messmer).
While clearly similar to Hallstatt, the Chinese version is not an exact copy. For example, the Chinese Hallstatt contains a replica of the street on which Mozart was born in Salzburg - in reality, Hallstatt and Salzburg are about 40 miles apart.
And of course the sub-tropical climate of the Chinese copy is nothing like Hallstatt’s actual Alpine weather.
Above: Not everything was copied - palms thrive in the sub-tropical replica, while the real Hallstatt enjoys a cooler Alpine climate ( image courtesy of HKFN/ Lukas Messmer).
While the exterior of the buildings have been painstakingly recreated, the interiors have been modified to Chinese tastes. The replica of Hallstatt’s Lutheran Church, for instance, is used as a banquet hall.
Above: The inhabitants of the Austrian town have come to accept the copycat development, and some now even regard it as flattery ( image courtesy of Wikimedia/Andrew Bossi).
Although the inhabitants of Hallstatt were originally shocked and surprised at the development, they have come to accept it, with the two towns signing an "agreement for cultural exchange" in 2012.
To learn more about about China’s copycat architecture phenomenon, watch our documentary HERE.