Am I seeing double?
There are some sites in the world that are on every traveler’s to-do list, from the Eiffel Tower to the Statue of Liberty, from Big Ben to the Colosseum. These are places so beloved it’s not even necessary to put the location next to them—we all know where they’re located. But, did you know that some of the world’s most loved sites have twins? Some even triplets and quadruplets? I’m not talking about a visit to Paris Las Vegas or exploring the world via Legoland. I’m talking about genuine, stop-and-look-again twins. Some are so similar you can tick off two just by seeing one. Well, nearly.
Top Picks for You
Mont Saint-Michel & St. Michael's Mount
WHERE: France & England
Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island off the coast of Normandy in northern France. A place of sanctuary, a monastery, and a place of pilgrimage, as well as a fortification and entry point to Normandy. This small island is crammed full with buildings all the way up to its hilltop and was first settled in A.D. 708. Today it is a tourist hotspot, reached by walking across the tidal path or arriving by horse-drawn carriage.
Its Twin: St Michael’s Mount is a tidal island literally on the opposite side of the English Channel, in Cornwall. Thought to have also been a monastery between the eighth and 11th centuries, the castle that now stands on top of the island has been family-owned since the 1600s. The island is covered in parkland, with the historic castle as a center point, and from a distance it’s eerily similar to France’s original.
Statue of Liberty & Statues of Liberty
WHERE: New York City & Paris
The Statue of Liberty needs no introduction. Standing tall in New York Harbor, this iconic landmark once welcomed immigrants to the United States. Given to the U.S. by the French as a symbol of friendship, the framework was built by non-other than Gustave Eiffel. Lady Liberty in New York stands 151 feet and 1 inch–or 46 meters–tall.
Its Twin: In Paris, there is one well-known Statue of Liberty standing on the Île aux Cygnes near Pont Grenelle, in the Seine. Standing just as proud, but at only 37 feet and 9 inches (11.5 meters) tall, it was given to the city of Paris by its American community some three years after the original was unveiled in New York City. The Paris twin might be smaller, but it has lots of siblings: there are seven others dotted around Paris, one in the Jardin du Luxembourg, two in the Arts et Metiers Museum, and there is even a large replica of the flame only, by Pont d’Alma, which has become a memorial to Princess Diana.
Eiffel Tower & Tokyo Tower
WHERE: Paris & Tokyo
From one Eiffel construction to the more famous one: The Eiffel Tower in Paris. Built for the 1889 World Fair, the Iron Lady, as the tower is nicknamed in France, was due to be demolished after the fair was finished. Still called an eye-sore by some, it ranks as the world’s fourth most visited landmark and is instantly recognizable.
Its Twin: From Las Vegas to Tianducheng, China, from Paris, Texas, to Berlin: there are seemingly countless replicas of the Eiffel Tower dotted around the globe. But one that has also become a defining part of the skyline of its city is the Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, Japan. It was completed in 1958 as an observation and communications tower, but stands roughly 1,000 feet taller than the original.
Arc de Triomphe & Arcul de Triumf
WHERE: Paris & Bucharest, Romania
Paris is full of iconic landmarks, and another one with many twins is the Arc de Triomphe, standing at the end of the Champs Elysees since 1836, celebrating the victories of France under Napoleon’s leadership. Holding the flame marking the grave of the unknown soldier, it’s also a regular spot for national celebrations.
Its Twin: Many cities around the world have their twin triumphal arches, from Berlin to NYC, but one that emulates the original in more ways than one is the aptly named Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest, Romania. Standing, like the original, in a traffic circle and reached by a wide boulevard, it fits in well with Bucharest’s moniker of Paris of the East. The city even has very Parisian-looking blue-and-green enamel street signs.
Bridge of Sighs & Bridge of Sighs
WHERE: Venice, Italy & Cambridge, England
The intricate stone Bridge of Sighs, dating back to 1603, connects two buildings of the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy: The prison and the interrogation room. It was Lord Byron who gave the bridge its English name, after the Italian Ponte dei Sospiri. Prisoners would leave the interrogation room, crossing the Rio di Palazzo, and reportedly sigh when taking their last glance at beautiful Venice from the bridge’s window before being locked up in their cells.
Its Twin: Much less dramatic is the twin Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge, England. Although named after the original in Venice, it was built in 1831 to connect a student campus with student accommodation that lay across the river Cam. A rather beautiful building which was probably ignored rather than sighed over by the non-appreciative students. Another copycat bridge with the moniker Bridge of Sighs can be found in the other famous university city in England: Oxford. The officially named Hertford Bridge, connecting two parts of Hertford College, was not built until 1914.
Ponte Vecchio & Pulteney Bridge
WHERE: Florence, Italy & Bath, England
Another rather unique—well, nearly unique–bridge in Italy, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence crosses the Arno and has shops lining it on both sides. The medieval bridge is hemmed today with expensive jewelers, but once upon a time, the shops sold produce, meat, and leather. Not quite as picturesque as it is now.
Its Twin: The twin of the Ponte Vecchio can be found in the Roman city of Bath in England. Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges with shops on it that still remains today, despite it once having been a much more common sight. Pulteney Bridge crosses the river Avon and offers visitors small boutiques and cafes.
The other two sibling bridges with some semblance of shops on them can be found in Erfurt, Germany, and in Venice, Italy.
Golden Gate Bridge & 25 de Abril Bridge
WHERE: San Francisco & Lisbon, Portugal
One of the most photographed bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge is not only an astonishing 1.7 miles long—it was the world’s longest suspension bridge until 1964–but it also saved people a tedious ferry ride when it opened in 1937. Famously painted in a reddish-orange called International Orange, this shade was initially meant only as a primer.
Its Twin: There are twins and then there are identical twins. The 25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon, opened in 1966, not only looks eerily similar to the Golden Gate bridge, it also has the same hue. The parentage could explain the similarities: The Lisbon bridge was built by the American Bridge Company, the company that constructed San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. Not quite the Golden Gate, but its neighbor.
Christ the Redeemer & Cristo Rei
WHERE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil & Lisbon, Portugal
The emblem of Rio de Janeiro, the gigantic statue of Jesus Christ on top of Mount Corcovado, stands nearly 100 feet tall and his outstretched arms span 92 feet. The top of the mountain itself is nearly 2,500 feet high, making the world’s largest art deco statue quite a spectacle. Add the views across Rio and its surroundings and this is a truly unique sight.
Its Twin: Or is it? Back to Lisbon. Across the above-mentioned 25 de Abril Bridge, you’ll find a twin Cristo statue. Standing on the southern bank of the Tejo Estuary, the statue looks across the river to Lisbon. Despite being elevated on a 269-foot-tall plinth and the figure itself measuring at 90 feet tall, the overall impression of this statue is it being a much smaller twin, but this is only because of its distance to the city.
Big Ben & Kolkata Time Zone Clock Tower
WHERE: London & Kolkata, India
This instantly recognizable tower is actually called the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben is the name of the bell within the clock tower. But regardless of how you name it, you know the site. Big Ben leans a little, but has recently had a facelift, ensuring it will continue being one of the most-visited landmarks in London.
Its Twin: Big Ben has a twin in India. In Kolkata, on the main road to the airport, the Kolkata Time Zone Clock Tower is a shorter—98 feet compared to 315 feet–and chubbier version of Big Ben. Opened in 2015, it’s supposedly an exact replica of the London landmark, but while remarkably similar from in appearance, this version stands alone on a street corner, losing something of the original’s royal presence.
Sydney Opera House & SEC Armadillo
WHERE: Sydney, Australia & Glasgow, Scotland
The Sydney Opera House is another iconic landmark that everybody knows and is on every visitor’s to-do list. With its distinctive shape (Are they sails? Is it a shell?), and its simply superb location on the harbor, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background, it has garnered a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. And did you know that there are more than one million white tiles covering the roof? Unique, right?
Its Twin: No, actually. Looking at a picture of Glasgow in Scotland from the water, with the SEC Armadillo in the background, will make you do a double-take. It looks a lot like Sydney—so much so that, at first, it’s difficult to put your finger on what’s not quite right with the picture. Viewed from the side, you’ll agree with the armadillo moniker, but viewed from the front, there’s a distinctive Sydney-Opera-House-inspiration visible.
Petra & Mada'in
WHERE: Jordan & Saudi Arabia
The hidden city of Petra, Jordan, is truly a wonder of the world. Carved into the rock, the magnificent buildings and temples date back to 300 B.C. when Petra was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. There is hardly a greater thrill than emerging from the narrow rock canyon from the outside world to be admitted into this unique archeological and historic site.
Its Twin: But Saudi Arabia has it has its own “Petra.” Also built by the Nabateans, Mada’in Saleh, sometimes also called Hegra, was a Nabatean hub along fabled trade routes connecting the east with the west, or, more precisely, ancient Persia with the Mediterranean ports. Unlike Petra in Jordan, Mad’in Saleh’s buildings have been carved into free-standing rocks in the desert, but that doesn’t make them any less spectacular.
The Colosseum & The Arena of Nimes
WHERE: Rome, Italy & Nimes, France
Nearly 2,000 years old, the Colosseum is famous for its historic gladiator fights, lions and tigers, and various other sports, entertainments, and cruelties, as thought up by the Romans. It’s the largest amphitheater built by the Romans, but by no means the only one. Wherever the Romans went–and they went far across Europe and beyond–they brought with them an army of builders and left behind amphitheaters, roads, baths, and temples.
Its Twin: There are plenty of famous amphitheaters found around the Mediterranean, from Libya to Tunisia, Greece to France, and obviously a few more examples dotted around Italy, such as the Verona Arena, where the annual Opera Festival takes place. But the one that’s most similar to the famous original is found in Nimes, in the south of France. It’s so similar, indeed, that just recently the promotional Ryder Cup video featuring Italian landmarks mixed the two up.
The Parthenon & The Parthenon
WHERE: Athens, Greece & Nashville, Tennessee
The Parthenon stands on a hill looking out across Athens in Greece. Part of the Acropolis, the former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos, dates to 447 B.C., and is one of the city’s main attractions. It is generally regarded as the most important monument of ancient Greek culture and its position, quite literally, makes it stand out as a sight to behold.
Its Twin: There are many similar temples to be found around the Mediterranean, though mostly of Roman descent rather than Grecian, but there’s also one closer to home: in Nashville, Tennessee. There is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon standing in Centennial Park. It was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition–one of more than 100 buildings but the only one that remains today.
Great Wall of China & Hadrian’s Wall
WHERE: China & England
The Great Wall of China is truly unique. How can it not be? It’s 13,170.70 miles long, which is equivalent to half the length of the equator, and some parts are 2,700 years old. It’s one of the most impressive landmarks in the world, one that simply doesn’t have a twin.
Its Twin: Though impossible to come anywhere near matching the feat, that doesn’t mean that people haven’t tried to build walls between countries (remember a former U.S. president who shall remain unnamed?) or around and through cities, such as Berlin, Germany. One wall that might come close–though not in stature or sheer impressiveness, but in history–is Hadrian’s Wall in England. Built by Romans and marking the northern edge of their empire, the wall stretches from coast to coast, all the way across northern England, and was built as a protection against tribes that lived even farther north. Dating to A.D. 122, a fair bit of the wall remains today, and there is even a popular hiking trail along it.