If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then London must be blushing hard. Here are seven of the copies and twins of our city’s landmarks from around the world...
The twin-pack Tower Bridge in Suzhou (above)
China boasts versions of 17 world-famous landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower to the Sydney Opera House. But which of our city’s precious icons has a copy more than 4,000 miles away in Suzhou, in Jiangsu province? Good old Tower Bridge. Kind of, anyway. Its super-sized Chinese cousin actually flaunts four 40-metre towers, rather than London’s paltry two, and a whole load of lanes of motorway traffic to boot. Imagine if someone built a dual carriageway straight through Hogwarts and you’ll be somewhere close to this Frankenstein bridge.
Big Ben’s little brother in Kolkata
The world’s most famous clock tower has a mini-me copy, almost 5,000 miles away. ‘The Kolkata Time Zone’ – as it’s been christened – was built in just ten months (the original took 16 years). It features four giant clock faces like the London one, and it even lights up at night like ours too. The only difference is that, at just 135ft, it’s less than half the height of the 315ft original. Still, if you’re pining for Big Ben’s bongs during its current renovations, get yourself over to West Bengal. The shrunken Houses of Parliament Tochigi Why travel the world when you can see it all in one afternoon? That’s the PR spiel for Tobu World Square theme park in Tochigi, Japan. The destination offers visitors 104 scaled down versions of world-famous attractions, from the Great Wall of China and the Great Pyramid of Giza to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. The building is a gothic dead ringer for Theresa and Jeremy’s hangout. It just looks a bit further away than it is.
The ex-London Bridge in Arizona
There have been several London Bridges. The one before the current one was built in the early 1800s, when traffic jams weren’t a thing. By 1962 it was struggling with twentieth-century congestion, and sinking into the Thames. Time to replace it. In a wheeler-dealer move worthy of Del Boy, the Greater London Council managed to sell it to a US oil tycoon. Robert P McCulloch bought the bridge for $2.5 million in April 1968, dismantled it and paid another $7 million to ship it 5,200 miles to Lake Havasu City in Arizona and re-erect it. His dream? To create a tourist-luring hotspot of British culture. The reality? A rather nondescript bridge.
In a lake. In Arizona.
The Thai Gherkin in Bangkok
Few London skyscrapers are as recognisable as 30 St Mary Axe. So no wonder Bangkok planners fancied a tasty Gherkin for their own skyline. The result is the Pearl, a near-identical glass tower with the characteristic lattice windows and a curved top, and which looks even more phallic than our one. While we’re not size queens here at Time Out, we’re still proud that our Gherkin stands a good 30 metres taller than its Thai cousin.
The NY London Eye on Staten Island
Americans just can’t get enough of the London Eye. There’s already a clone of our glass-podded wheel in Vegas. Now New York’s getting in on the action. Staten Island’s version, the New York Wheel, is set to become the world’s biggest ferris wheel next year. So far, so lofty. Promising panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and neighbouring New Jersey, the £340 million attraction can carry a whopping 1,400 passengers at a time. Putting the ‘ate’ in ‘rotate’ is a 20-seat onboard restaurant. Time to raise your game, London Eye.