Chinese city tries to clone London's Tower Bridge for tourists
14th July 2020

Welcome to the ‘Tower Bridge of China’: Chengdu City tries to clone London landmark – but tourists may struggle to spot the similarities

  • A replica of London’s iconic Tower Bridge has drawn swarms of visitors in China
  • But the copycat structure in Chengdu hardly looks similar to the original one
  • Pictures and footage show the bright red bridge topped with tower-like turrets
  • It was said to have been built as part of an European-style housing development 

A Chinese city has attempted to replicate London’s famed Tower Bridge so the locals wouldn’t need to travel across the world to see the landmark. 

Although the copycat structure has turned out to be different from what one might have expected, Chinese people apparently loved it. 

Swarms of tourists have flocked to visit the ‘Cannes Bay Stylish Bridge’, billed by Chinese media as the ‘copycat of Tower Bridge’, in south-western Chinese city Chengdu. 

People in China no longer need to travel across the world to see London’s famed Tower Bridge after a Chinese city attempted to build a duplicated version (pictured) of the British landmark

The cloned structure, painted in bright red, looking nothing like the original bridge with Victorian Gothic style bricks and distinctive pointy turrets. This file picture taken on June 25 shows people relaxing on the bank of the River Thames next to the Tower Bridge in London 

Pictures and footage show the Chinese bridge painted in bright red – a far cry from the original which has Victorian Gothic style bricks and distinctive pointy turrets. 

The duplicated version was built in 2012 by a local real estate developer, according to Chinese media.

It was intended to be part of a European-style housing development and used by the residents to travel across the Jin river surrounding the compound.

The structure consists of eight six-storey towers, all painted in red and connected by a pedestrian pavement. 

The towers are topped with small turrets that are reminiscent of the world-famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The suspension bridge, modelled after London’s renowned landmark, was built in 2012 by a local real estate developer in Chinese south-western city Chengdu, reported Chinese media

Swarms of tourists have flocked to visit the ‘Cannes Bay Stylish Bridge’, billed by Chinese media as ‘copycat of Tower Bridge’, in southwestern Chinese city Chengdu. The picture shows three visitors sitting on the bridge as they pose for a photo with the copy of Tower Bridge 

The structure consists of eight six-storey towers, all painted in red and connected by a pedestrian pavement. The towers are topped with small turrets that look like Eiffel Tower

This is not the first time China has tried to clone the British landmark. It comes after another copy of London’s iconic Tower Bridge in east China has drawn ridicule after it was left unrecognisable from an expensive makeover.

The Tower Bridge replica, which is double the size of the British version with four turrets, was built in the tourist city of Suzhou, Jiangsu province in 2012.

Government officials last September invested 20 million yuan (£2.2 million) in renovation works to ‘make it more Chinese’ and ‘more coherent with the surrounding architectural style’, Chinese media reported. 

After: A copy of London’s iconic Tower Bridge in east China’s Suzhou city has drawn ridicule after it was left unrecognisable from an expensive makeover. The local government spent about 20 million yuan (£2.2 million) in to ‘make it more Chinese’

Before: The Tower Bridge replica, which is double the size of the British version with four turrets, was built in 2012

Some users even said it looks like a military Pillbox – a concrete guard post dating back to World War Two

The renovated landmark was recently unveiled following six months of construction, according to Beijing News. 

Photos and video footage released on Saturday show the entire structure painted over with grey paint, its distinctive pointed turrets mowed flat and its ornate mullions replaced with rectangular panes – much to the horror of surrounding residents and net users.   

The structure, which has been a hit location for ‘European-style’ wedding photography, now looks like a prison, net users said in protest.  

Twin towers: The old version of the replica has been a hit location for ‘European-style’ wedding photography

Photos released on Saturday show the entire structure painted over with grey paint, its distinctive pointed turrets mowed flat and its ornate mullions replaced with rectangular panes – much to the horror of surrounding residents and net users

‘Who ever re-designed this has absolutely no sense of aesthetic,’ one user said on Weibo. ‘Ugly beyond belief!’

Some users even said it looks like a military Pillbox – a concrete guard post dating back to World War Two. 

‘Who decided to remove the pointed turrets? It’s so ugly I can’t look at it,’ one user commented on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. 

‘Who ever re-designed this has absolutely no sense of aesthetic,’ another comment read. ‘Ugly beyond belief!’

‘To be honest, it looked quite magnificent before as it was a pretty good replica, now it just looks ridiculous,’ another person said.  

Unlike the real span in the UK capital (pictured), which was opened in 1894, Suzhou’s model is not cantilevered and cannot open to let tall boats pass

Each of the five-storey towers of the Chinese version is 131 feet tall and are connected by a pair of suspended walkways

The bridge, located above the river Yuanhetang, is 45.9 metres (150 feet) wide and includes fast and slow lanes and a pedestrian pavement.

Each of the five-storey towers is 40 metres (131 feet) tall and are connected by a pair of suspended walkways. There are also elevators taking visitors to the top for a bird’s-eye view of the city. 

Unlike the real span in the UK capital, which was opened in 1894, Suzhou’s model is not cantilevered and cannot open to let tall boats pass.  

An official of the Xiangcheng district government said the renovations are necessary to repair wear-and-tear damage 

‘Who decided to remove the pointed turrets? It’s so ugly I can’t look at it,’ one user said on Chinese microblogging site Weibo

An official of the Xiangcheng district government told Beijing News in January last year that the renovations were necessary to repair wear-and-tear damage following years of traffic. 

‘Considering the area’s future urban development, we also re-designed the structure to make it more coherent with the overall surrounding architectural style,’ the official added.

Sitting about 200 miles north-west of Shanghai, Suzhou has become well known for cloning other world-famous landmarks. 

In 2008, the Suzhou government announced they would build the copies of 56 landmark bridges from around the world on its rivers. 

A replica of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris has also been built in a theme park in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province

East meets West: A structure that is half Temple of Heaven in Beijing, half Capitol Building in Washington was build in Hebei 

So far, the city has its own Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as a copycat Pont Alexandre III bridge straight out of Paris, the French capital. 

On top of that, the area boasts a Dutch town complete with windmill and Dutch-style housing.

The city with 6.6 million residents is often dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’ and has been an important hub of China’s silk industry for around a thousand years.

Elsewhere in China, replicas of world-famous landmarks can be found, including a Thames Town near Shanghai, a replica of Austria’s Hallstatt resort in Luoyang, Henan and copycats of the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysee square in Hangzhou. 

Last June, a full-size replica of the Great Sphinx of Giza has reappeared in a theme park in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province

The life-size replica of the Sphinx belongs to the Hebei Great Wall Film Studios in north China

In June of 2018, a full-size replica of the Great Sphinx of Giza has reappeared in a theme park in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, reigniting fury from the Egypt government. 

The Sphinx copy measures almost the same size as the original, with its appearance resembling closely to the world-famous limestone statue currently standing on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile.

The model belongs to Hebei Great Wall Film Studios. Chinese media previously reported that the statue had been built as a film set in the theme park. 

But it unlike the original – which was carved from limestone – the Chinese version appears to have been built using reinforced concrete.

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