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China Knocks Off An Entire Austrian Village

A $940 million clone of one of Austria’s most picturesque villages recently opened its doors to visitors in the southern Chinese province of...

Nestor Bailly, PSFK
Nestor Bailly, PSFK on June 5, 2012. @NKBailly

Hallstatt in Upper Austria is one of nation’s precious jewels. Nestled deep in the beautiful Northern Limestone Alps beside a clear mountain lake, the village has a unique history and culture dating back to prehistoric times, and is known for its ancient salt production.

Now it has competition from a clone halfway around the world. Chinese metals and mining company China Minmetals Corporation spent $940 million to build a replica of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed village that recently opened its doors to tourism. An hour away from Huizhou city, near the ‘factory of the world’ Pearl River Delta, the controversial replica initially drew the ire from residents of the real Hallstatt. However, after realizing the unique marketing opportunity it presented, the mayor of the real Hallstatt flew out for the replica’s opening ceremony.

While not exactly a Potemkin village, the new Hallstatt is primarily a tourist attraction like the real one. It has an exact copy of the original’s church clock tower, European-style wooden houses and a town square ringed by colorful buildings and Disney-like photo spots.

Hallstatt village

See images on Huanqiu Chinese News site

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