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Älvkarleby S, Sweden

Dragon Gate

Not quite the cultural gateway between China and Sweden its designer imagined. 

The businessman Jingchun Li, who made a fortune on selling mosquito repellent in China, had high ambitions when he bought a hotel by the E4 highway outside the city of Gävle, Sweden in 2004. He envisioned a grand Chinese castle that served as a business meeting point and cultural gateway between China and Sweden. He named the complex “Dragon Gate.” 

The plans for Dragon Gate included a restaurant, hotel, conference facilities, museum, rice field, a Shaolin Temple with a Kung Fu school and the world’s largest Buddha statue. There were even plans to import a live panda bear.

Today, after more than a decade, the site is far from what Mr. Li envisioned. There have been a number of scandals, ranging from fire safety regulations not being met to unsafe working conditions for the underpaid Chinese construction workers. Of the original plans, only the museum—with is 200 replica terracotta soldiers—and the restaurant and gift shop opened to the public at the grand opening in August 2014. 

So far, the Dragon Gate project is estimated to have cost more than 250 million krona. However, the 56 individually designed bedrooms in this luxurious hotel are still waiting for their first guests to arrive when, or if, the hotel finally opens its doors.

Know Before You Go

Dragon Gate is easiest to reach by car. It it located along the E4 highway, about 25 km southbound from Gävle or about 150 km northeast of Stockholm.