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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Statue of Liberty must be blushing. A gift from France to the United States in 1886, the nation’s most iconic symbol has been duplicated in varying sizes in more than a hundred locations all over the world. And Lady Liberty has lots of company — replicas of famous landmarks abound across the globe, offering a taste of the originals to visitors who may never travel beyond their own country. China is the undisputed champion of replica culture, with an entire replica theme park in Shenzhen and a full-sized Titanic nearing completion in Sichuan province. While most copies are outright homages, other replicas are simply well-preserved examples of more famous (but similar) designs. Here are eight outstanding replicas that are worth a visit in their own right.
The Parthenon (Nashville, Tennessee)
Dedicated to the goddess Athena, the original Parthenon graces the summit of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The most important surviving structure of the Classical period, its construction began in 447 BCE. Many centuries later, when the state of Tennessee was celebrating its centennial in 1897, it looked to the Parthenon to cement its capital’s claim as the “Athens of the South.” Nashville built a full-sized replica of the historic temple constructed of plaster that was intended to be temporary, but the Parthenon was such a hit with the public that it was eventually rebuilt with reinforced concrete. A 42-foot statue of Athena was added in 1990. A replica of the figure that stood in the original temple, it was gilded and decorated in 2000. The Nashville Parthenon is now a museum and gallery, the showpiece of the city’s Centennial Park.
Christ the King (Almada, Portugal)
The iconic Christ the Redeemer statue that stretches over Brazil’s seaside city of Rio de Janeiro has become a symbol for the former Portuguese colony. Perched on the summit of Mount Corcovado, the Art Deco statue stands 98 feet tall and was completed in 1931. Inspired by the monument and built as a symbol of hope and prayer in the midst of World War II, the Portuguese version was approved by Catholic bishops in 1940. Construction began in 1949 and was completed 10 years later. Now, the 82-foot-tall Cristo Rei looks out upon Lisbon from a cliff across the Tagus River, in the neighboring city of Almada.
Banglar Taj Mahal (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the original marble mausoleum as a loving memorial to his favorite wife. Completed in 1648, the Agra compound attracts around eight million people each year. Wanting to boost tourism to Bangladesh, and concerned that many in his country could never afford to travel to the original Taj Mahal, wealthy Bangladeshi filmmaker Ahsanullah Moni spent $56 million to build a full-sized copycat just outside the capital of Dhaka — 800 miles southeast. Although built of the same materials as the original, modern construction methods and machinery allowed completion of the replica in only five years. If you’d like to see something historically closer to the real thing (without the crowds of Agra), the Bibi Ka Maqbara in Aurangabad was commissioned by Shah Jahan’s son in memory of his first wife, in a very similar style and is affectionately known as “the poor man’s Taj Mahal.”
Stonehenge (Esperance, Australia)
The giant Neolithic stones on England’s Salisbury Plain have fascinated onlookers since before recorded history — and still draw visitors from around the world to marvel at the partially toppled ruins of the mysterious monument. Replicas abound in a variety of materials, from automobiles to refrigerators to foam. Only one “henge,” however, is full-scale, intact, and astronomically aligned, and it’s found in Western Australia. Built from 137 slabs of locally quarried brown granite — some weighing up to 55 tons — the Esperance monument is located on private property and is open to visitors.
King Tut’s Tomb (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Egypt’s most famous monarch lay undisturbed for thousands of years before his ornate and opulent tomb was discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. The young pharaoh became an international sensation, with treasures from his grave exhibited in museums around the world. Using 3-D laser scanning and hi-res photography, an exact replica of the burial chamber is now located in the Valley of the Kings, within a mile of the actual tomb. But for those who aren’t able to travel to Egypt, the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History now hosts a remarkable recreation. Authorized by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, this replica of Tutankhamun was originally located in the Luxor Hotel & Casino. (And as long as you’re in Vegas, you can visit another famous replica: the Trevi Fountain at Caesars Palace.)
St. Peter's Basilica (Montreal, Canada)
The holiest site in Catholicism, St. Peter’s Basilica is also the largest church in the world. More than a century after construction began on the Renaissance masterpiece, it finally opened in 1626. Located in Vatican City, the papal enclave of Rome, it draws millions of visitors who gather in the massive square. And in Montreal’s busy downtown, a miniature St. Peter’s serves as a faithful replica. Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral was completed in 1894, at roughly one-fifth the size of its inspiration, as the original architect declared the task of scaling St. Peter’s impossible. Designed in the shape of a Latin cross, the cathedral features a large copper dome and statues of the patron saints from Montréal’s thirteen parishes.
Eiffel Tower (Gómez Palacio, Mexico)
Wanting to bring a slice of Paris to their new home in Mexico, the native French community in Gómez Palacio, located in the state of Durango, unveiled La Torre Eiffel. Completed in 2007, the monument was gifted to the city and is a faithful and well-constructed replica, approximately one-fifth the size of its iconic big sister, which receives almost seven million visitors each year. (The world’s largest replica is the 540-foot half-scale reproduction at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.)
The Colosseum (Pula Arena, Croatia)
Rome’s Colosseum is the most famous amphitheater of the Roman Empire, but the Romans kept busy building replicas all across their vast empire. One of the most dazzling and best-preserved displays is on the Adriatic Sea in Pula, Croatia. Situated at the end of the Istrian peninsula, Pula was an important harbor for the Romans (and the Greeks before them) and shows evidence of hominid habitation dating back one million years. Constructed during the reign of Augustus in the first century CE, the limestone arena at Pula is the only remaining Roman amphitheater to retain all four of its side towers. Two thousand years after its construction, the colosseum is still in use for events and performances, including concerts by Andrea Bocelli, Elton John, and Leonard Cohen.