The Odd Architecture Of Myanmar’s Capital

odduppatasanti-01Naypyidaw, Myanmar, is one of the strangest capital cities in the world. The city, only a decade old, is a sprawling maze of 20-lane highways, government compounds and pastel condominiums. One visitor described it as “an eerie picture of post-apocalypse suburban America.” Another was more blunt, calling it “the most awful place you have ever been to.” In terms of entertainment, there’s not much: a gem museum, several golf courses, a zoo. And looming above all is the city’s most popular attraction, the Uppatasanti Pagoda, which has received four of five stars on one popular travel site, with nearly half of the reviewers calling the attraction “excellent.”

Measuring over 300 feet tall, the gleaming gold pagoda looks like an ancient marvel. But although the Uppatasanti Pagoda is an impressive building – especially when photographed in evening against a darkening blue sky – the splendor is a façade. The pagoda is no wonder of the ancient world; it was completed in early 2009, with a portion of the structure reportedly built by children, some as young as seven or eight. And it’s almost an exact replica of the more famous Shwedagon Pagoda, which was built in the country’s former capital, Yangon, in the 14th century.

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