When Shanghai resident and blogger Jakob Montrasio posted this photo on our Contribute Page, we wondered exactly when he visited the Forbidden City, because the blue skies in the photo weren’t in Beijing last week when we were there. Then we realized the photo was taken in Zhejiang Province — a place called Hengdian World Studios (横店影视城) — where a seemingly life-size replica of the Forbidden City can be found (with a small mountain in the distance). We’ve been wanting to check this place out for a while now.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
Hengdian World Studios is one of the largest artificial studio built for movie and film production in China. The movie studio is operated by the privately-owned Hengdian Group. The studios comprises of 13 shooting bases with a total area of up to 330 ha. and building areas of 49,5995 square meters. In addition to its huge scale, the studio also has several records which includes:
1. Largest Indoor Buddha Figure in China.
2. Largest Scale Indoor Studio.
3. Most number of Films and Teleplay Shoots as of 2005.
One of the studio’s largest buildings is the Imperial Palace Building built in the Early Chinese Dynasty style to mimic those in the Qin and Han period. That area is still frequently used to shoot movies based on these eras. Internationally acclaimed director Zhang Yimou used this building as the backdrop for the Emperor Qin’s palace for his 2002 movie Hero. A Hong Kong TVB drama serial titled A Step into the Past which tells the story of the the First Qin Emperor also used the same building as the main backdrop.
Above you can find a slideshow of Jakob’s photos from Hengdian. Here is his writeup. You can find more detailed info at travelchinaguide.com, which tells us that is costs just as much to see the fake Forbidden City (60 RMB) as it does the real one and: “Hengdian Film Studios are located in the village of Hengdian (横店), Zhejiang Province (浙江省). The nearest town is Dongyang (东阳).” Here’s a map that shows the area and its location relative to Shanghai. Zoom in for a closer look.