12 years without a single visitor: inside the Chinese tourist montrosity crumbling in the middle of Sweden

Sweden's Dragon Gate Hotel opening imminently

Learn about the unusual story of Sweden's weirdest tourist attraction

Thursday, September 15, 2016

One of Sweden's weirdest tourism projects is fast becoming a colossal white elephant.

The huge China-themed complex, called the Dragon Hotel, features an army of terracotta soldiers and an enormous Guanyin statue, while the owners have promised to build the world's largest Buddha and import a live panda bear. In fact, a white elephant is one of the few things it doesn't have.

Yet for now those plans are on hold. Twelve years on from the start of the construction programme, only the restaurant, museum and souvenir shop have ever opened to the public.

The owner, Chinese billionaire Jinghun Li, wanted to create a place "where east meets west" when he bought the old Hotel Alvkarlenin 2014. But he has been hampered by negative media reaction - one magazine described it as "the worst building of the year" as well Sweden's Work Environment Authority, which meted out a 1.1 million kronor ($130,000) for poor working conditions.

While the hotel's owners have repeatedly suggested the opening is imminent, they have kept going back on their word. Now rumours abound that the site is about to close for good, prompting some weird messages on the Dragon Gate website.

On Wednesday morning, a message was published on the site telling visitors that "We have shut down our facility and business and don't know if or when we will open again. We still hope to see you at some point in the future." 

This was followed by a sharp denial, which read: "We apologise for the strange message which previously stood here. The domain and website were cleared and we as the new owner of this domain name figured it was best to put the website back to its original state. One of our employees misinterpreted this to mean that the hotel had closed down which is not the case."

The fate of the person who posted the original message is unclear. However, one things seem certain - this weird and rather wonderful tourist attraction ain't about to open its bright-red doors any time soon.

Check out the gallery above to see pictures.