How an Austrian Mountain Village Ended Up in China
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Just one year after announcing ambitious plans to copy of a small idyllic Austrian mountain village, Chinese developers have unveiled their clone hamlet. Located just outside the southeastern city of Huizhou, the new village is a close approximation of Hallstatt, Vienna, complete with rows of pastel-colored chalets, architectural finials, and even an exact replica of the town clock tower that characterize the 900-year old original. Overseen and operated by Minmetals Land Inc., the $940 million project was recently completed, with Halstatt mayor Alexander Scheutz on hand to open the complex to tourists this past Saturday.
When news of the project spread last summer, Hallstatt residents expressed outrage at the idea of the Chinese fake, threatening to make an appeal to UNESCO to potentially halt the building. The town soon came around, however, after realizing the great promotional opportunity the Chinese development presented. When Scheutz opened the site over the weekend, he did so after signing a cultural exchange agreement with local authorities, expressing pride at the accomplishment and pledging mutual support for the endeavor.
As Reuters reports, the Chinese Hallstatt is comprised of expensive housing units for the city’s nouveau riche, with other shops and sites for tourists. The main square, modeled on the Austrian town’s marketplace, is strewn with photographs of the local replica landmarks, while staff constantly water and maintain the extensive gardens that line and surround the village. The scheme is working, claimed the Chinese developers and the visiting Austrian delegation. The number of visitors from China to Hallstatt was near negligent half a decade ago, but the project has seems to have set off a significant boost in Chinese tourists to the village, with thousands now flocking to the alpine retreat. We’ll see if the new Hallstatt enjoys the same success.
All photos by: Siu Chiu/Reuters
This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.