8 carbon copies of the Netherlands across the world

Want to leave the Netherlands but afraid that you’ll miss the beautiful architecture? These places are modelled after Dutch towns — but are found in all corners of the world!

Dutch architecture is internationally celebrated and admired. So much so, that some countries decided to construct a little bit of the Netherlands for themselves. These Dutch-shaped towns serve many purposes: for some, they are amusement parks, for others, they are purely residential. 

Either way, some of these carbon copies will make you think you ate one too many truffles before heading out for a stroll in a cosy, Dutch neighbourhood.

1. Huis Ten Bosch: Japan’s Dutch experience

Perhaps the most surreal of all copycat towns are “Dutch” theme parks. Can you imagine Paleis Huis Ten Bosch — but in Japan and filled with art and tourists?

Photo-of-Huis-Ten-Bosch
The Netherlands, but with neon lights. Image: Miranocchi/Instagram

In 1979, Japanese man Yoshikuni Kamichika visited the Netherlands and was blown away by its beauty. He was looking to create a unique tourist attraction for visitors to the Omura Bay area in Nagasaki, Japan and the stunning Dutch houses and canals gave him a jolt of inspiration. Located in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Huis Ten Bosch was opened in 1992 and cost a massive €2.5 billion! 

The money funded the digging of six kilometres of canals as well as the planting of 400,000 trees and 300,000 flowers (the man was dedicated, we have to give him that.) Bricks were even imported from the Netherlands to ensure that the buildings looked as accurate as possible. 

2. Holland Village: China’s slice of the Netherlands

The Japanese were not the only ones to create their own little Netherlands. China once enjoyed a Dutch theme park of its own, Holland Village. The town was meant to be both a Dutch theme park and a residential area. Built in the year 2000 in Shenyang, China, Holland Village boasted canal houses, windmills and replicas of famous Dutch buildings such as its own Amsterdam Centraal and Peace Palace.

Chinese-Dutch entrepreneur, Yang Bin, was the mastermind behind the project. However, he was arrested in 2002 for tax fraud. All his projects were subsequently declared bankrupt and Holland Village was demolished in 2009.

3. Holland Village, Shanghai: a Dutch satellite town in China

Not to be confused with Bin’s Holland Village in Shenyang, this Holland Village (or Holland V, for short) was built in Shanghai and is exclusively residential. Holland V was intended to act as a satellite town for Shanghai. Modelled after Amsterdam (surprise surprise), the town consists of adjoining canal houses, canals (duh) and even has its own De Bijenkorf! 

Photo-of-Holland-Village-Shanghai
A Chinese-Dutch ghost town. Image: Banalities/ Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

It was hoped that the village would appeal to rich Chinese who lived in the Netherlands but wanted to return to their homeland, however, in reality, the village appealed to very few. Despite 20,000 residential buildings being built in Holland V, in 2020 the project is basically a ghost town. Now, it acts as a backdrop for wedding photos and quirky film productions.

4. Holland, Michigan: quintessential Dutchness in the US

Some of these copycat towns can be attributed not to international admirers, but to the Dutch themselves. Perhaps a town that best exemplifies this is Holland, Michigan (yep, sounds pretty Dutch.) 

This town still offers sightseers a glimpse of Dutch architecture with buildings, windmills and bridges that would convince you that you were in a brightly coloured version of the Netherlands. The town even hosts its famous Tulip Time festival each May. 

Photo-of-houses-Holland-Michigan
Image: Jonathan Mast/Unsplash

Ready to move to the US but not quite ready to leave behind the quirks of Dutch life? Perhaps Holland, Michigan will help you transition.

5. Dutch quarter, Potsdam Germany: a little bit of Dutch in Duitsland

King Friedrich Wilhelm I admired Dutch architecture so much that he decided to build a Dutch quarter in the city of Potsdam, Germany. Modelled after parts of Amsterdam, Wilhelm I hoped to attract Dutch craftsmen with the similarly styled buildings. 

Photo-of-Dutch-Quarter-Potsdam
Unfortunately, the quarter didn’t attract many Dutch. Image: Giorgio Michele/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

The Dutch quarter was nearly lost to the era of the German Democratic Republic, during which it fell into dilapidation. However, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the quarter was gradually restored and renovated with the help of the Dutch royal family.

6. Oranjestad, Aruba: a colourful take on Dutch architecture

It is well known that the Dutch had a colonial hold on Aruba for many years. This inevitably resulted in Dutch architecture cropping up across the tropical island. However, what’s interesting about this colonial footprint is that the Arubans put their own spin on things. Instead of the usual brick-coloured buildings, this Dutch architecture has been dressed up in beautiful pastel colours to better suit its tropical surroundings and culture. 

Photo-of-Oranjestad-Arube
Putting their own spin on things. Image: falco/ Pixabay

7. Willemstad: perhaps the most colourful ‘Dutch’ town yet

Even brighter still are the beautiful buildings of Willemstad on the island of Curacao. These brightly coloured houses make the city look like a Dutch Lego-land from the water. Much like Oranjestad, the city didn’t stick to the Dutch style guide when it came to painting this architecture, and I for one, am thankful for it — look at how pretty it is! Those colours are bound to get some serotonin flowing. 

Photo-of-Willemstad
Imagine if Amsterdam took a page from their book! Image: Pitoboy333/Pixabay

8. Orange County Hotel Resort: a Turkish take on the Netherlands 

Located in Kemer, Turkey, we must admit, this resort didn’t go wrong with the name. The Dutch are about as tied to the colour orange as the Irish are to shamrocks. To make sure there is no confusion, the resort name also features a windmill logo.

But once you lay eyes on the architecture of this resort, you almost question why they felt the need to specify at all, this place is clearly modelled after classic Dutch townscapes. The only main difference being that their windmills are situated next to swimming pools, not murky canals. If there are any Dutchies looking to experience some holiday weather in the Netherlands for once, look no further!  

Could you be convinced that these places were in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments below! 

Feature Image: 663highland/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2020, and was fully updated in April 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Sarah O'Leary
Sarah O'Leary
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

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