Friday 27 November 2009

Look Upon This Picture, And On This...

When is a famous historic building not a famous historic building? When it's a scale model, of course.

In last week's Canberra post I talked about our visit to Cockington Green Gardens, a tourist attraction filled with miniature replicas of English village settings. However, it also has an international section.

Rather than being filled with humble village miniatures, it's mostly home to replicas of grand historic buildings from around the globe, funded by the relevant national embassy or cultural body.

As I walked around, I realised I'd been to several of the models' originals. There's nothing more fun than playing the "Been there!" game, usually while watching the TV. You know how it goes - an image comes on the screen of the Pyramids, for example, or Edinburgh Castle, and you shout out "Been there!".

You don't know that game? Oh well, we play it here, anyway.

Here are my "Been there!" moments from Cockington Green:

1. Borobudur, Indonesia. On my first trip overseas in 1981, I visited this beautiful 9th century Buddhist monument, containing over 500 Buddha statues within bell-shaped stone structures. Here's my pic from 1981:

... and here's Cockington Green's model:

2. KarlĹĄtejn Castle, Czech Republic. This Gothic castle outside Prague was constructed in the 14th century for the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, Charles IV. We snapped this shot on a Central European trip in 1993...

And here's the replica at Cockington Green:

3. Palmyra, Syria. Palmyra was a Roman-era city, now a set of ruins in the Syrian desert. We visited it in 1994, on a holiday from our teaching jobs in Egypt. Here's a pic we took then...

... and here's the model at Cockington Green:

4. Petra, Jordan. The beautiful "rose-red city half as old as time", carved from the rock by the Nabatean civilisation around 100 BCE. Here's our 1994 photo...

... and Cockington Green's version:

5. Trakai, Lithuania. Finally, I visited Trakai in 2008 while taking a side-trip from a Lonely Planet assignment. This place really does look like it's been plucked from Disneyland, as it's a perfect fairy tale castle in the middle of a lake. Here's my shot...

... and here's Cockington Green's model. Hard to pick the fake, huh?


  1. Haha! Fabulous and quirky. I have lived in Canberra for 36 years and never been to Cockington Green, and still don't intend to ever go. But thanks for filling me in, a lot better than I expected. Not sure why tourists go either, since they've probably seen some of the real things. Spose it takes all sorts.

  2. Though I also would prefer hitting the real sports, I do understand that people who can't afford to travel go there. The other day I've seen a show about India on TV. Some very clever guy purchased an old plane, placed it in his yard and is now charging people for a "flight experience" (the place never leaves the ground, but the engines run well...). I guess Cockington Green is a bit the same. But yeah, that game of yours IS fun. :))

  3. Hmm, I guess two types of people go there; those who want to play the "been there" game and those who use it as a subsititute for going to see the real thing.
    I guess it is a decent day out but I saw the Czech castle during one of my Prague city breaks and I find it hard to believe that a scale model could do it justice.
    Do a lot of people go there? It seems like a fairly random type of tourist attaction to have such a wide variety of buildings from across the globe.