Reality vs. Vegas

Las Vegas has reinvented itself many times over the years. The 1990s were the heyday of the themed resort in Vegas, which resulted in a building boom of megaresorts modeled after famous places and monuments. Replicas of world-famous landmarks, statues and buildings popped up all over the Strip including the pyramid-shaped Luxor, the Big Apple knockoff New York-New York and the French-themed Paris Las Vegas.

With Vegas’ take on spots like the canals of Venice and the Eiffel Tower, you don’t have to travel halfway around the globe to see some of the world’s most famous places. They might not be the real thing but sometimes they’re so close you can hardly tell the difference. See how the Vegas versions measure up to the real thing:

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas

The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas

Real: The 1,063-foot tall Eiffel Tower in Paris was built by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition in 1889. Construction of the tower, which was made with 2.5 million rivets, took two years. Besides being an iconic sight on the Paris skyline and offering amazing views of the city, other highlights of the tower include two restaurants. On the day the tower was inaugurated, March 31, 1889, Eiffel climbed the 1,710 steps to plant the French flag at the top and was followed by the members of the Council of Paris.

Vegas Version: The 460-foot tall Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas opened 110 years later, in 1999, a half-scale replica of the original. Instead of Eiffel dedicating the tower, French actress Catherine Deneuve was on hand to throw a switch turning on the lights illuminating the Las Vegas tower just as the lights on the real Eiffel Tower were extinguished by the great-grandson of its designer. Like its counterpart, the tower in Vegas offers a gourmet French restaurant and an observation deck on top.

Statue of David

Real : David, the 17-foot-tall marble statue of King David, is one of Michelangelo’s most famous works. He sculpted the masterpiece over the course of three years and it now resides in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy.

Vegas Version: The Roman-themed Caesars Palace is full of beautiful statues and one of the most impressive is a replica of Michelangelo’s David. The 18-foot-tall white marble statue is an exact replica of the masterpiece. The 9-ton statue, which stands in a rotunda in the hotel’s Appian Way shopping area, was carved from stone mined from Carrara, Italy where it is believed Michelangelo got his stone.

The Colosseum


The Colosseum at Caesars Palace

Real: The Colosseum in Rome is the largest amphitheatre built in the Roman Empire and is a marvel of Roman architecture and engineering. The 50,000-seat Colosseum, built between 70 AD and 80 AD, was mainly used for gladiator contests and other public showcases like animal hunts and plays.

Vegas Version: The Colosseum at Caesars Palace is not quite as big as the original, but it does have room for 4,300 people. The three-tier theater was created for Celine Dion (who will return to the stage next year) and is currently home to Cher. The real Colosseum was an engineering marvel and the one at Caesars Palace is a technological wonder. The $95 million Colosseum was completed in 2003 and features a half-acre stage. Even though the stage is massive, the farthest seat in the house is only 120 feet away. If that’s not close enough, the venue boasts the largest indoor video display in North America, an on-stage high definition LED screen, which measures 110 feet wide by 34 feet tall.

The Grand Canal

Real: The Grand Canal in Venice, Italy is about two miles long and 350 wide at its widest point. The Grand Canal banks are lined with more than 170 beautiful buildings, most of which date back to the 13th – 18th centuries.The Grand Canal was traditionally the high-rent district in Venice so the housing and décor surrounding it are elaborate and elegant. While the Grand Canal has water taxis to get around, many tourists choose to navigate it by gondola.

Vegas Version: The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian opened in 1999. A replica of the Grand Canal flows through the shopping area and outside in front of the hotel property. While the Vegas version is not lined with ancient buildings, it stretches a quarter of a mile and is surrounded by more than 80 internationally flavored boutiques and restaurants. Tourists here can also board a gondola to cruise the canal and with their operatic voices, serenading gondoliers and authentic street performers might just make you feel like you’re really in Venice.

Statue of Liberty

Real: The 305-foot-tall Statue of Liberty, given to the United States by the people of France, was dedicated in 1886. The statue is made of a sheathing of copper on a steel framework except for the flame on the statue’s torch, which is coated in gold leaf. Artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi sculpted the statue with a little help from Gustave Eiffel, who engineered the internal structure.

The Statue of Liberty at New York - New York is a 150-foot clone of the real thing

Vegas Version: New York-New York hotel casino, which opened in 1997, is home to a 150-foot clone of the Statue of Liberty, which stands in front of the resort. In the aftermath of September 11, the real Statue of Liberty was closed to tourists for several years. In front of the Vegas version of the statue, a spontaneous tribute was started by visitors after the attack to honor the heroes of September 11. Some of the items are preserved under glass in front of the statue including T-shirts from fire stations around the world, notes, flowers, flags and poems. The New York-New York hotel aims to replicate many of New York’s famous buildings with 12 New York City-styled hotel towers that are approximately one-third the size of the real architecture. Replicas include the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Egyptian pyramids

Real: There are more than 100 pyramids in Egypt and the most well-known, including the Great Pyramid, are located in Giza. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 workers built the pyramids of Giza over a span of 80 years. The pyramids were built with stones that were mainly limestone and granite and a bright white limestone made up the outer layer of the pyramids, making them a sometimes blinding structure to look at in the daylight. Giza is also home to the Great Sphinx, a 240-foot-long, 66-foot-high statue of a lion body with a human head.

Vegas Version: The Luxor hotel, named after the city in Egypt, is not made of limestone or granite, rather it is composed of black glass. The 30-story pyramid opened in 1993 with an Egyptian theme that included features like a faux Nile River, a replica of King Tut’s tomb and talking mechanical camels. The hotel has since remodeled and moved away from the Egyptian theme, but a large replica of the Sphinx still stands outside. Because of the pyramid shape, the hotel has special elevators called inclinators, which travel at a 39-degree angle in each corner of the pyramid to bring guests to their rooms. The pyramid stands 350 feet tall in comparison to the Great Pyramid of Giza, which tops out at around 450 feet.


It’s not that warm in Minnesota. I know this from spending half my life freezing in the northern part of the state. So 20 years ago, I decided to thaw out and traded in scarves and mittens for tank tops and flip-flops (Take that, polar vortex!). I swapped snow for 300 days of sun a year. I may not have been born here, but there are hotels that haven’t lasted in Vegas as long as I have. The Sands, Hacienda, Aladdin, Desert Inn and the Stardust too. I've been to my fair share of implosion parties. (Yeah, that’s a thing.) As a writer for, I've applauded hundreds of shows, explored every major hotel in town and raised a few glasses at most of the city's bars and clubs. Now I'm the resident foodie here. I write about all things dining — from $3.99 shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate to the finest sushi at Nobu, and everything in between.