At first glance, this looks like a fine example of the glittering sacred shrines scattered around Southeast Asia. But it could hardly be farther away. It's one of the many replicas of famous landmarks all over Las Vegas—and it’s been around longer than the half-scale Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas or the fake skyscrapers of New York-New York. It’s not on display in a Thailand-themed casino, either (although such a casino could happen; you never know in Vegas). Instead, this shining shrine sits rather incongruously in front of Caesars Palace.
As photographer Matt Harvey explains, this is an 8,000-pound bronze and gold replica of the Erawan Shrine near the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel in Bangkok, complete with a statue of Phra Phrom (the Thai version of the Hindu god Brahma). A pair of Asian businessmen donated it to Caesars 30 years ago, and hotel staff have quietly maintained it in the Roman Plaza ever since. A plaque says it was meant for “people of all faiths, as a place of prayer which in turn bestows prosperity and good fortune.” As with shrines everywhere, folks visit and leave offerings (permission from casino security is required), hoping for good luck — something you can never have too much of in Las Vegas.