Current Weather
The Spy FM

As Europe Goes, So Go Its Fake Monuments

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
June 2, 2012

Four years into Europe’s debt crisis, the Eiffel Tower is rusting and London Bridge may soon be falling down. Not the real monuments — but giant replicas in a once-glittering theme park in Spain, where cash-strapped authorities can no longer afford to maintain them.

Lucas Sebastian is a long-distance truck driver who’s crisscrossed Europe several times. But he’s never seen the Eiffel Tower, London Bridge or the Brandenburg Gate.

“Sure, I’ve traveled, but only from one industrial zone to another. To the capitals? No way. I know Germany, and France, from driving my truck through them, but I’ve never seen this,” he says.

Sebastian and his wife pose for photos at a life-sized copy of Rome’s Trevi Fountain, just a half-hour from their home in Madrid.

Parque Europa opened in 2010 after several years of construction. The theme park started as an homage to Europe — it has 17 replicas of famous European monuments — but it’s now become a monument to the debt in which Spanish communities are drowning.

This suburb, Torrejon, is $90 million in the red. Part of that is the $18 million it cost to build this park, which also has an ancient Greek theater and a Viking ship.

Another problem is what opposition politicians say is a $250,000 per month water bill required to turn this desert area green — and supply a giant fountain that spews hundreds of feet into the air.

Standing on the fake London Bridge, tourist Fernando Canfran shakes his head.

“I think they spent money they didn’t have,” he says.

That much is obvious. Some grounds staff lost their jobs, the Eiffel Tower is rusting and the man-made lake is turning green.

There’s a saying in this economy: Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.

“With this really sharp slowdown, it just really shines a spotlight on these projects where the cost-benefit analysis that was done was probably not adequate to a time like this one,” says economist Gayle Allard of Madrid’s IE Business School.

Back near the fake London Bridge, there is a rare American tourist, Craig Nordgren. He’s never been to London, and though he was in Paris last year, he didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower because of the long lines.

“We would have, if the lines were shorter,” he says.

Lucky for him, there are no lines here. The town is relying on loans from the central government to keep the park’s gates open — for now. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center