Shakespeare and Cervantes move to southern China

The Chinese city of Fuzhou will build a new district to honor William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Tang Xianzu, one of the most popular Chinese playwrights of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The opening is scheduled for 2020.

Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province in southern China, chose the three authors - all playwrights - because they died in the same year, 1616; local authorities have signed agreements with the organizations in charge of the memory and legacy of each author. The goal is to create a new historical interest district and promote tourism in the city. Besides paying tribute to three world literature giants, local authorities want to offer visitors a journey back to the 17th century.

The project will build replicas of the two houses where Shakespeare lived and died in Stratford-upon-Avon, according to specifications from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which demanded an architectural reconstitution following the two buildings' original layout. All this because China has unfaithful replicas of the Eiffel Tower (smaller than the one in Paris) and London's Tower Bridge (with twice as many towers as the original). China also boasts a copy of a nineteenth-century American town (Jackson Hole) but it's not exactly faithful to the original.

The reconstruction of the places where Cervantes lived in Alcalá de Henares must also comply with strict criteria, especially because the Spanish city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Places from Alcalá to be replicated include: Cervantes' birthplace, the square with the name of the Spanish author, and the Tower of Santa Maria with the chapel and font in which the creator of Don Quixote was baptized.

In honor of the Chinese writer - one of the most important intellectuals of the Ming era and the author of two key literary works, The Four Dreams of Linchuan and The Peony Pavilion - several buildings will be erected according to the rules of traditional Chinese architecture, as well as a garden dedicated to Chinese opera composers, a theater hall in the middle of a artificial lake, a spa, and a museum on Tang Xianzu.

Known as 'San Weng' (which could be translated as 'Three Masters'), the project will span 890,000 square meters. The opening is scheduled for 2020.

In addition to the fact that they died in 1616, the three authors were chosen because of "their unique contribution to universal literature" and because their works are still published and staged. Tang Xianzu's works have been translated into English and French; they are studied in Western schools and are still a huge success in Chinese stages

An additional reason is that the Spanish and Chinese authors were born in September, although in different years, just a few days apart.

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