SHIJIAZHUANG, June 5 -- A castle in north China's Hebei Province has gained worldwide attention for resembling Hogwarts Castle in "Harry Potter." But rather than housing young wizards, this castle was built for art students.
The castle, with its giant clock tower and peaked roof, is located in Xinle City and was built by the Hebei Academy of Fine Arts with a total investment of 400 million yuan (64.04 million U.S. dollars) as a part of its new campus.
Authorities with the academy explained that they didn't try to build a Chinese version of Hogwarts. In fact, the castle serves as an animation studio for students and is called "Cinderella's Castle."
"The castle is designed in the Gothic style and modeled on castles of medieval Europe, and it combines several elements of old European architecture," said Zhen Mo, the head of the management committee of the academy. "Different styles of art exhibitions will be held in the castle and students can complete post-production work on their animation there."
"We are trying our best to show the students representative works of art in order to inspire them, and we believe that seeing real things is much better than just viewing pictures," Zhen said.
The current campus is full of Chinese characteristics, including flowing streams, stone bridges and pavilions.
"We want the students to learn through nurturing by both Chinese and Western cultures," Zhen added.
The new campus, which includes the castle and European-style churches, is expected to be put into use in the second half of this year, according to Zhen.
The castle has drawn wide attention after it was reported by Chinese online media. The "Daily Mail" in the UK and "The Wall Street Journal" in the United States both reported the story and described the building as a "real-life Hogwarts."
Although some criticized the castle for being a replica, others are curious about the architecture.
"I hope I can go to a college that looks like this," said Lv Hua from Shijiazhuang, who made a special trip to the castle.
"Unlike other Chinese campuses, this one gives people a deeper impression," Lv said.
A resident surnamed Wang said the castle shows classical beauty and has become a highlight of the city.
Last month, a replica of Egypt's Sphinx built in Luquan City in Hebei Province caused controversy. After Egypt's ministry of antiquities complained to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) about the imitation, local officials explained that the imitation will only serve as a temporary scene for movies and television dramas and will be removed after filming.