10 Wonders of the Midwest | Midwest Living

10 Wonders of the Midwest

The world's cultural gems might be as close as your own Midwest state. Check out some of the Heartland's finest (and not so fine) replicas of famous art and architecture.

Little Mermaid on the prairie

The real Little Mermaid sculpture gazes over the Copenhagen harbor. At a Kimballton, Iowa, city park, a replica sits in a splashing fountain, more than 1,000 miles from any sea.

Kimballton's Little Mermaid was created in 1978 as a tribute to the town's Danish roots. Originally made of fiberglass, she was recently recast in bronze for durability.

Kimballton, Iowa

See Cincinnati from the Eiffel Tower

People didn't like the 1,023-foot original at its 1889 World's Fair debut in Paris. But the one-third-size replica at Kings Island amusement park in Cincinnati has wowed visitors since 1972. Take an elevator to the observation deck for a view of the park and beyond.

Kings Island

Iowa's Sistine Chapel art

Inspired by Michelangelo's masterpiece inside Italy's Sistine Chapel, Paco Rosic spray-painted a replica onto the ceiling of his Galleria de Paco restaurant in Waterloo, Iowa.

Paco, who was born in Sarajevo, moved with his family to Waterloo in 1997. His graffiti art appears on community projects as well as in galleries.

Galleria De Paco

Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Leaning Tower of Niles

Legend says Galileo conducted scientific experiments from atop the Tower of Pisa in Italy. The half-size version in sister-city Niles, Illinois, was erected in 1934, most likely to store water for the town's outdoor swimming pools. Summer concerts are now held on the grounds near the tower, which was renovated in the 1990s.

The Village of Niles

Little Mermaid on the prairie

The real Little Mermaid sculpture gazes over the Copenhagen harbor. At a Kimballton, Iowa, city park, a replica sits in a splashing fountain, more than 1,000 miles from any sea.

Kimballton's Little Mermaid was created in 1978 as a tribute to the town's Danish roots. Originally made of fiberglass, she was recently recast in bronze for durability.

Kimballton, Iowa

Seville Light fountain in Missouri

In 13th-century Seville, Spain, the Muslim faithful rid themselves of impurities in a fountain at the Patio de Los Naranjos. Today, shoppers in Kansas City clean out their wallets near Country Club Plaza's exact replica. Seville is one of Kansas City's sister cities.

Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association

A Liberty Bell of wheat

The original Liberty Bell was made of 70 percent copper, 25 percent tin and a composite of other elements. Mennonites in Goessel, Kansas, wove a full-size copy from Turkey Red Wheat straw for the bicentennial in 1976.

The wheat bell, which was displayed in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., for two years, is now on permanent display at the Mennonite Heritage Complex in Goessel, Kansas.

Wheat Liberty Bell

Wisconsin's Taj Mahal

An Indian emperor built the Taj Mahal in Agra to honor his deceased wife. Tassel-bedecked Shriners gather at Milwaukee's 1928 version. The building was inspired by its Indian counterpart and cost more than $600,000 to build and furnish.

Tripoli Shrine Center

Love at Mount Vernon Gardens

George Washington's contemporaries admired his Virginia estate for its panoramic views of the Potomac. Today's brides covet Missouri River views at a half-size garden in Omaha, Nebraska. You don't have to be in a wedding to visit, however; the garden is open year-round and admission is free.

Mount Vernon Gardens

Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

Controversial David replica

The Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence Italy shields Michelangelo's David from the elements. Trees planted in 1973 shield Sioux Falls' replica of the nude from street traffic, appeasing the public, who felt the nudity would reflect poorly on the town's morals. The statue was donated to the city by a Sioux Falls inventor and automobile manufacturer.

South Dakota tourism

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