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5 Replicas of Famous Landmarks You Can Visit Without Leaving the U.S.

By Julia Hammond
Read time: 5 minutes

In the world of tourism, the old saying “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” often rings true. Creating a copy of a famous attraction can attract visitors to a city — particularly ones who aren’t keen to book an overseas flight to see the original. So, put away your passport — these are five of the best replicas of famous landmarks you can visit without leaving the U.S.

The Parthenon – Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville Parthenon replica surrounded by grassy field
Credit: f11photo/ Shutterstock 

Dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, the Parthenon is the most famous monument at the Acropolis of Athens. It took 15 years to build and decorate, which would be an impressive feat in any era but even more so in 447 BCE. Many centuries later, a replica was constructed for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897. Initially, no one in Nashville expected the Parthenon to stick around after the exposition, as the replica was built with temporary materials. But it proved so popular with residents that, in the 1920s, the structure was rebuilt to become a permanent fixture. 

Today, the building — the world’s only exact-size replica of the Parthenon — houses Nashville’s art museum. Some might even consider the American version an improvement on the original. That’s because, inside, it contains a duplicate of a statue of Athena that went missing from the Greek site around 2,000 years ago. The copy was the work of sculptor Alan LeQuire, who delivered it to the Nashville replica in 1990. 

Leaning Tower of Pisa – Niles, Illinois

Leaning Tower in Niles, Illinois
Credit: Serhii Chrucky/ Alamy Stock Photo

Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa is the freestanding bell tower of the Tuscan city’s cathedral. The tower was constructed of heavy marble in the 12th century, but because it was built on soft ground, it began to tilt almost right away. Despite extensive remedial work, the tower still has a pronounced list to this day — which has, in turn, made it a world-famous tourist attraction

The replica that’s found in Niles, Illinois, is a half-scale copy of the original. It owes its existence to local businessman Robert Ilg, who wanted to create a private park for his employees but disliked the idea of an unattractive water tower, which was necessary for the park’s two large pools. His solution was a creative one: Build a replica of one of Italy’s best-known landmarks around it.

The tower, measuring 94 feet tall, took three years to construct and was finished in 1934. Unfortunately, like the original, the tower was beset with problems. Over the years, freeze-thaw weathering took its toll on the concrete structure. But the Niles landmark also underwent a successful renovation and has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Stonehenge – Centreville, Virginia

Foamhenge replica monument in Centreville, Virginia
Credit: Andre Jenny/ Alamy Stock Photo

The sarsens, lintels, and station stones that form the Stonehenge stone circle have graced England’s Salisbury Plain for around 4,500 years. They are an impressive sight to behold, with some of the stones standing more than 20 feet tall. The stones align with the sun during the summer and winter solstices, and, as a consequence, the site has since become closely associated with Druidism. 

In contrast, Foamhenge in Centreville, Virginia, was never intended to have much longevity. Artist Mark Cline of Enchanted Castle Studio initially came up with the concept as an April Fools’ joke, but it proved surprisingly popular. The full-size copy was erected two decades ago in the town of Natural Bridge, but time wasn’t kind to the gray-painted Styrofoam blocks. Showing signs of wear and tear, the replica was dismantled in 2016 and moved a year later to a new location in Centreville at Cox Farms, where it’s been ever since. 

Eiffel Tower – Paris, Texas

Eiffel Tower replica topped with red cowboy hat in Paris, Texas
Credit: Kit Leong/ Shutterstock 

There are not one, but two Eiffel Towers, though they’re separated by a gap of more than 5,000 miles. One graces the skyline of the French capital, and was erected in 1889 on the Champ de Mars for the Exposition Universelle. Gustave Eiffel’s 984-foot-tall design, a latticework pylon made of iron, triumphed over 106 alternatives to become a Parisian icon. 

The other can be found in Paris, Texas, a city that was laid out in 1845 and named for its French counterpart. The 65-foot-tall replica was installed in 1993; since 1999, a giant red Stetson has sat on top. Just like the French original, the Texas tower is illuminated after dark, though here the colors of the Texan flag are often used. However, the tallest true replica of the Eiffel Tower (as opposed to those that are merely similar in appearance, like the Tokyo Tower) is located in Nevada, where it forms part of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. 

Venice, Italy – Las Vegas, Nevada

Gondoliers at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada
Credit: Ian Dagnall/ Alamy Stock Photo

The Eiffel Tower isn’t the only European monument you’ll see in Las Vegas — the Venetian Resort features an extensive recreation of the Italian city of Venice. After the wife of late CEO Sheldon Adelson suggested combining the romance of Venice with the glamour of Las Vegas, the one-of-a-kind hotel opened in 1999. Guests will see a mock-up of the Grand Canal together with replica monuments such as the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile of the Basilica San Marco

Some may write off the Venetian for never being able to match the authenticity of the real Venice, but interestingly, the city’s iconic bell tower, St. Mark’s Campanile, is itself a copy of an earlier tower. The first was constructed in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 16th century to the design visitors see today. But even that wasn’t good enough — the tower collapsed in 1902 and had to be replaced for a second time. 

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