Picturesque Austrian town secretly cloned in China

A Chinese property developer called Minmetals Land Inc secretly built a copy of a picturesque Austrian village called Hallstatt, building it in Guangdong province, the white-hot center of the Chinese manufacturing revolution, on a site 60km from Hong Kong. The Austrians are both proud and miffed, though the argument that ancient designs of buildings, or characteristic layout of ancient villages are somehow the property of their temporary residents is a bit odd -- sort of like claiming that because your town has a gothic cathedral, no one else should be able to reproduce its centuries-old design without your permission.

The original is a centuries-old village of 900 and a UNESCO heritage site that survives on tourism. The copycat is a housing estate that thrives on China's new rich. In a China famous for pirated products, the replica Hallstatt sets a new standard.

The Chinese Hallstatt features a church spire, a town square ringed by pastel-colored buildings and angel statues. They're among architectural flourishes inspired by the original, a centuries-old village of 900.

Chinese secretly copy Austrian town (via /.)

(Image: a downsized, cropped thumbnail from a larger picture on


  1. As an American living in Guangdong for many years, I can assure you that the authorities here would not be so keen to have an army of foreign “tourists” secretly photograph every square inch of one of their own beloved national tourist destinations and then faithfully recreate it in the middle of Kansas. 

    1. Surely we can aspire to a higher standard for a rational relationship to originality, photography, and secrecy than the politburo.

  2. “Secretly” as in the fact this has been reported on for over a year in the media and how they sent people to Austria to get the details right but ran into trouble with their mayor… Oh and the Photo op of the opening reported in China? Secret…

  3. Do they also have life sized cutouts of the Austrian residents just like in Blazing Saddles?

  4. Maybe this opens a whole new market: Rebuild the town you grew up in and retire in it… In China!

  5. Story seems to provoking the same crappy jokes about dodgy Asians copies and piracy.

    Way to dial back the racism, internet.

    1. There is no anti-Asian sentiment in this thread. 

      If the Peep’s Repub cared about not being the butte of jokes, they would cease producing surface copies of virtually every modern day product… but as it turns out, Kapitalist Kurrency is awesome and they know this. 

      Also, I find your assertion that the Internet exists to “dial down” racism to be worthy of both a chortle and a guffaw.

  6. Since when were villages copyrighted? I see no problem with some Chinese people wanting to make a replica of Hallstatt. It’s a beautiful little village.

    1. If some tourist got really lost, they might think that they were actually in Hallstatt, Austria. This would clearly represent a potential loss of income to Austrian tourism and might lead to unjustified complaints from tourists expecting snow in Guangdong.

  7. Something about this reminds me of “Hyperion”. Perhaps there are cybrid yodellers in this village as part of the Chinese quest to build the UI.

  8. Reminds me of Helen, Georgia, which gave me a head rush the first time I stumbled into it.

    I always had in the back of my imagination a corresponding image of a little Georgia mountain tar paper shack town somewhere in Bavaria, full of proud Germans in flannel shirts and overhauls, with Chevys up on blocks in the front yard, laundry strung out the back, and an operating refrigerator on the front porch.

    Thinking about that is just like acid used to be.

  9. Bizarre. I’ve been to Halstatt. Walked there from Bad Goisern when I was studying lettering under Friedrich Neugebauer. (back in my pre-computer days)

    Halstatt (the real one) is on a very small plot of land, and the church there has an eentsy bit of land for the church and its cemetery; after something like 300 years, they unbury the bones, paint them (decoratively) and lay them in a crypt. I haven’t clicked through to read the article (because I’m just so taken by the whole thing I felt I must! comment! right! away! but that’s the thing I wonder about — if they’re going all out to replicate every little thing, will they replicate the Hallstatter tradition for burial of the dead?

  10. I wonder if you can nominate other villages for replication. I grew up in a small historic neighborhood and would love to have the nostalgia available without risk of running into anyone I threw water balloons at.

  11. Is this really so different from Disney World’s “China Pavillion” or the Venetian in Las Vegas reproducing the canals of Venice?

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