Photo Gallery China's German Ghost Town

The Chinese wanted an idealized German town, complete with half-timbered buildings and medieval romance. But a German architecture firm had a better idea and built a typical modern German residential estate near Shanghai. Now no one wants to live there. Even the Oktoberfest was cancelled.
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Colorful facades, functional buildings. Anting German Town, a satellite town near Shanghai, covers one square kilometer. It was designed by German archicture firm Albert Speer und Partner as the replica of a modern German residential district.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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The plan, devised in 2001, was for the district to attract thousands of people.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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With its canal, ponds and green spaces, it contrasts with the high walls and barbed wire of modern Chinese residential estates.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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"We wanted to break the monotony that marks many cities in China," says Speer architect Johannes Dell But today he has to acknowledge: "The Chinese weren't interested in that."

Foto: Xifan Yang
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It is a ghost town. Its streets are deserted. Hardly anybody seems to live here.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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The annual Oktoberfest, which bands from Germany used to travel to, has been cancelled. A German pub and a German bakery also shut down. The manager of the only German Restaurant in the area, the "Wirtshaus," lives in the new district, but his restaurant is in the old district.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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There's more going on in the old district of Anting, says the Wirtshaus manager.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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Bronze statues of German poets Goethe and Schiller stand in a cobblestone square.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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Even the graffiti was planned. "The Chinese didn't want a German town. They just wanted a town that looks like a German town," says German architect Dell.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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A park in Anting German Town. City planners estimate that only one in five apartments in the district is occupied.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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The post office is finished, but has never opened.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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Construction materials litter the pavements. Parts of the town still look unfinished.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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Real estate agent Yu X showing an unfinished flat. "Impossible to sell," says Yu. "No one has been in this apartment for years." Then she explains why: the windows face east and west. The Chinese prefer their homes to have windows facing north and south -- that's better Feng Shui.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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The Chinese wanted to replicate the romance of a Black Forest town, and ended up getting this -- functional, well-insulated buildings.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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Passersby in this ghost town tend to be on their way to the nearby plant of VW. As a result, new German vehicles are a common sight in Anting German Town.

Foto: Xifan Yang
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