Jiufen is an old mountain village in Ruifang District of New Taipei City, and has perhaps the best old street in all of Taiwan, with authentic Taiwanese food, sloping steps, traditional Chinese architecture, and great views of Su Ao and Keelung Harbors. There are also multiple historical sights within the town. The entire village is built on a mountain slope, so that you can enjoy views of Taiwan's north coast from basically anywhere in the city.
Jiufen gets its name from the original nine families who settled in the village during the Qing dynasty, who asked for nine portions of shipments every time they arrived (九Jiu=nine 份Fen=portion). The discovery of gold in the area created a gold rush in the town that lasted until the last Japense Era. When gold mining ended in 1971, the town began to decay. After A City of Sadness was filmed there, the town began to see a tourist boom. Also the town began to see many visitors especially from Japan after 2001 due to the resemblance of the town in Spirited Away, even though Miyazaki has said that Jiufen was not inspiration for the movie.
Around 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM
How to get There:
By Train: Take TRA to Ruifang Station, then transfer to Keelung Bus which goes directly to Jiufen every few minutes (about a 15 minute ride from Ruifang).
By Bus: Buses directly to Jiufen leave from Taipei Main Station and Songshan Station regularly.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 to Ruifang and then travel on highway 102 all the way up to Jiufen. Parking is scarce and some of the most expensive in Taiwan. Expect at least 250 NT per day for a car and 50 NT per day for a scooter.
Please see below:
The Taipei 101 (aka Taipei World Financial Center) is the tallest building in Taiwan, standing at a height of 509 meters. It was the highest building in the world from 2004 to 2010, and is now the 10th highest building in the world as of 2019. It stands as an icon and symbol of Taiwan's economic prosperity, and may be the most recognizable building in Taiwan. It also features an observatory on the 89th floor with some of the best views of Taipei.
Taipei 101 Q + A:
What is the Taipei 101?
It was the highest building in the world from 2004-2010, with 101 floors above ground (hence the name 101) and 5 floors below ground. It was designed by C.Y. Lee & Partners, and also had the fastest elevator in the world until 2016. It is an icon of Taiwanâs technological advancement.
How was Taipei 101 built?
The Taipei 101 was built in a period of 5 years from 1999-2004. The Taipei 101 is reinforced by concrete piles driven 80 meters below the ground and 30 meters into bedrock. In addition, it made of high strength reinforced steel and flexible materials. It was designed by C.Y. Lee & Partners, and also had the fastest elevator in the world until 2016.
How much did the Taipei 101 cost?
NT$ 58 billion (US$1.934 billion)
How is Taipei 101 earthquake proof? How does the Taipei 101 withstand earthquakes?
The Taipei 101 is reinforced by concrete piles driven 80 meters below the ground and 30 meters into bedrock. In addition, it is made of high strength reinforced steel and flexible materials.
How does the Taipei 101 damper work?
The damper works by offsetting strong wind gusts, absorbing the forces and turning them into kinetic energy, moving the damper.
How much does the Taipei 101 sway?
The most that the Taipei 101 damper has ever swayed was during Typhoon Soudelor, swaying 100 centimeters (39 in). See below for a video!
The Taipei 101 Observatory is open every day from 9 AM to 10 PM.
When to go:
In my opinion the best time to go is on a sunny morning just after it has rained so that there is no haze in the air.
600 NT per person. Discount tickets can be found online.
How to get there:
Take the MRT red line to the Taipei 101/World Trade Center station. See below for a map:
Rainbow Village is a brightly colored artistic dependents village located in Taichung, Taiwan. It was converted into a tourist destination by one of the former residents in order to save the village from destruction. The unique paintings cover almost the entire village, and has become a major spot for tourists and Instagrammers.
The artist behind the work, Huang Yung-Fu (黃永阜), was a KMT soldier that retreated from mainland China with the ROC army. He and his family were relocated to a dependent's village in Taichung, where they stayed permanently. Eventually after over half a century the village became worn down and developers wanted to tear it down. In order to save his village, Mr. Huang painted the houses starting in about 2008, which caught the attention of local university students that campaigned to save the village. The village is now a popular tourist attracting, attracting more than a million visitors a year.
Check out this video recently made by the BBC for more information:
Who knows how much longer Mr. Huang will live, so if someone wants to make an English documentary they should do it soon.
How to get there:
Take highway 125 in Nantun, on the outskirts of the Taichung. The village is tucked into Zhongyang Road Lane 19.
Map: Please see below:
Tainan Anping Fort (aka Fort Zeelandia) is an ancient fort in Tainan City that dates back to the Dutch rule of Taiwan. The fort sits right next to Anping Old street, making it a great place to understand Taiwan's culture and at the same time get some of the best snacking at the culinary capital of Taiwan.
After the Dutch defeat in Penghu in 1624, they turned their sights instead to the island of Taiwan (Formosa) and began building on what were then sandbars in what is now Anping, Tainan (the inland sea that once existed here has long silted in).
Fort Zeelandia was completed in 1634 after 10 years of construction, built on the high ground of one of the sand bars, along with other forts in the area, such as Fort Zeeburg. It included a one story outer fort armed with cannons. There was also a three story inner fort for administration, including a church and jail. The bricks for the building were shipped in from Java.
The Dutch ruled most of Taiwan until 1661 when they were defeated by Ming Loyalists lead by Koxinga. Koxinga sieged fort Zeelandia, for nine months, killing 1,600 of the Dutch people there before they surrendered due to lack of water. The victory at Zeelandia proved to be the end of 38 years of Dutch rule in Taiwan, the survivors fleeing to Batavia.
After Taiwan was taken over by the Qing Dynasty in the late 1600s, Tainan became the provincial capital of Taiwan. Fort Zeelandia fell into disrepair as the bay silted in. The bricks on the outer wall were harvested for the Eternal Golden Castle fort closer to the ocean.
During the Japanese occupation, the fort was repaired and renamed Anping Fort.
In 1975 the fort was further repaired and the tower improved to what currently stands.
Anping Fort: 50 NT per person
Anping Old Street: Free
Anping Fort: Every day 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.
Anping Old Street: Every day 7 AM to 6:30 PM.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From central Tainan go west on Minsheng Road until it becomes Anping Road. After that keep going until you see the tower.
By Bus: Take Tainan Bus 2 from Tainan Train Station to Anping Old Fort station. The ride takes about an hour.
Map: Please see below:
Duona Suspension Bridge (aka Duonagao Suspension Bridge 多納高吊橋) is the highest pedestrian suspension bridge in Southeast Asia, featuring amazing views of the Zhuokou River and Maolin's mountainous landscape. The bridge is part of a trail that connects the top of a ridge-line, giving hikers 360 views of the river valley and surrounding landscape.
The Duona Suspension bridge is the highest in Southeast Asia and the highest bridge in Taiwan. It is 232 meters long (761 feet) and 103 meters tall (338 feet). It was completed during the Japanese Colonial Era (early 1900's) and was the main connection between the Rukai tribe living at Duona Village to the rest of Taiwan. The bridge was renovated in 1997 and 2015. Car and scooter traffic have been officially banned after 2015, although local residents still ride over it.
Duona Great Bridge sits in the Eagle Valley (老鷹谷) next to Duona Suspension Bridge and allows two lanes of motor traffic. It was completed in 2012. Before it was built, another bridge that crossed the river there was destroyed during the floods of Typhoon Morakot (aka eight-eight flood or 八八水災).
Typhoon Morakot brought record floods to Taiwan because it slowly moved over the island delivering torrential rain. Nearly 700 people were killed during the disaster (to see what Maolin looked like right after the flooding, check out this blog here).
Basically all the bridges in Maolin were destroyed during Typhoon Morakot in 2009 except Duona Suspension bridge which is built so high that it would never be affected by floodwater.
Most all the bridges currently in Maolin were reconstructed after the 2009 floods.
How to get there:
Take Maolin Forest Road (Kaohsiung City Road 132) to Wanshan Village, after which turn left toward Meiya Valley 美雅谷 at the top of the ridge, and continue right until you come to the suspension bridge. Technically you should park your car there and walk to the suspension bridge, but there are also spots to park closer to the bridge.
Map: Please see below:
The Qing Military Headquarters in Kinmen is the oldest and one of the best preserved buildings from the Qing dynasty in Taiwan. The complex is completely renovated into a museum, and is full of exhibits, showing visitors exactly what life was like during the Qing dynasty, as well as providing historical background to Kinmen and the surrounding area.
The building itself was built in the 1600s during the Ming Dynasty for the scholar Xuxie (許獬) as a library. During the reign of the Kangxi Emporer starting in1662 (during the Qing Dynasty), the building was transformed into the military headquarters for Kinmen. After the ROC lost the Chinese Civil War, they used the building for government purposes until it was made into the police headquarters in 1958. In 1991 the building was made into a historical monument. In 1995 it was abandoned by the police, and by 2004 renovations had stared on the building. In 2012 the renovations were completed, and the Kinmen Military Headquarters during the Qing Dynasty reopened as a museum.
Hours: 9 AM to 10 PM every day.
How to Get There: The building is in the center of Kincheng near Kincheng Old Street, on Wujiang Street No. 53 (浯江街53號).
Map: Please see below:
Zhaishan Tunnels (aka Jhaishan Tunnels) are winding military tunnels running underground in Kinmen connecting to the ocean. During the Chinese Civil War, they were used to protect ships from bombing raids. The tunnels are open for tours, and besides having great acoustics the tunnels are also strikingly beautiful.
The tunnels were completed in 1966, but due to budget constraints the tunnels had to close in 1986. I assume this is because the tunnels required constant dredging. The tunnels were made into a national heritage park and opened for tourists in 1998. The tunnels are over 350 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 3.5 meters high.
Hours: Every day 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
How to get there:
Take Zhuhai West Road Sec. 3 out of Kincheng south to Guguang lake. Follow the brown signs to the tunnels; there is a large parking lot and park in front of the entrance.
Map: Please see below:
Beishan Broadcasting Tower (aka Beishan Broadcasting Wall) is a tower on the north central coast of Kinmen used by the military to broadcast messages, propaganda, and music across Xiamen harbor to communists on the other side. The tower still sends broadcasts daily, and is a unique wartime relic that is definitely worth visiting.
The tower has 48 speaker holes and can broadcast up to 25 kilometers away. The tower was built as part of "physiological warfare" to the other side. Every day the broadcasting tower still plays messages to China, including Teresa Teng's music (鄧麗君), a Taiwanese singer who was one of the most influential and famous Mandarin speaking singers of her time.
Map: Please see below.
Shuitou Village is perhaps the most visited historical village in Kinmen. It features mansions from some of the wealthiest merchants in Kinmen at the time, preserving western style mixed with traditional Southern Min style architecture. Walking through this village gives you a unique time-period view of Kinmen's history.
Shuitou Village has been inhabited for over 700 years. In it's prime, it was the richest village in Kinmen. The western style mansions (Yanglou 洋樓) in the village built by rich merchants are among the best preserved and extravagant on the island. These mansions are available for tours daily. Among the most famous buildings are Deyue Gun Tower, Jinshui Elementary School, and the Huang Family Ancestral House. Most of the people in the town were either fisherman or farmers, being close to the major wharf on the island (Shuitou Wharf).
How to get there:
From Kincheng, take Xinhai Raod Sec. 1 south to Shuitou village
Deyue Tower and Mansion Tour Times: 09:00、10:00、11:00、14:00、15:00、16:00, and open for visits 8:30 AM -5:00 PM every day.
Map: Please see below:
Deyue Gun Tower in Shuitou Village was once the highest building in Kinmen, originally built by a wealthy merchant to defend against pirates and thieves. The intricately decorated tower and surrounding buildings were also a sign of wealth and power to the rest of the island. It is one of the most visited attractions on the island, and guided tours are offered daily.
Deyue Tower was built in 1931 by a wealthy trader in Shuitou Village, Huang Hui-huang, by architect Chen Nan-An at a price of 13,000 Silver Yuan. Chen Nan-an also built a mansion for Huang Huihang which sits behind the tower. Mr. Huang was a wealthy trader throughout Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and so he was a target for theft. The island had a problem with constant pirate raids, so protective measures needed to be put in place.
The tower was meant to be able to have a good view of Shuitou Pier, where most of the pirate attacks originated.
During Taiwan's martial law period, Deyue Tower and the surrounding mansions wereoccupied by KMT troops and used as a defensive outpost in case of invasion.
From what I can tell, the tower appears to have never seen any real action, but it certainly worked as a deterrent to pirates and thieves in the area.
How to get there:
From Kincheng, take Xinhai Raod Sec. 1 south to Shuitou village. The tower will be hard to miss.
Hours: 8:30 AM -5:00 PM every day.
Free Guided Tour Times: daily at 09:00、10:00、11:00、14:00、15:00、16:00
Map: Please see below:
Kinmen's Juguang Tower is like an introduction for the rest of the island. Much of the island's history and culture can be understood just by a quick walk through these halls. The tower also provides a nice view of Kinmen and Xiamen Harbor.
Juguang Tower was completed in 1953, originally built to commemorate the battles of Guningtou and the 823 Artillery War (aka Second Taiwan Strait Crisis), two battles in which the KMT forces held back the Communists from invasion. It was built in Nanjing style, the original capital of the ROC. The tower is three stories high with galleries and historic exhibits throughout its halls. Now the tower also has many exhibitions featuring the local art and culture of the Kinmen people. Often it is the first stop for tourists visiting Kinmen.
How to Get There:
Take Xihai Road Sec. 3 south out of Kincheng, then turn left onto Xianheng Road.
Hours: 8 AM - 10 PM every day.
Map: Please see below:
Maoshan Tower is an ancient pagoda dating to the 14th century AD that sits on top of a hill on the southwest side of Kinmen Island. From the top of the hill, one can see pristine views of the Xiamen Harbor, the Taiwan strait, and Kinmen Island. The hike takes about 10 minutes and is definitely worth a stop on your trip to Kinmen.
Brief Historic Background:
There are three ancient towers in Kinmen: Wentaibao Tower, Daoying Tower, and Maoshan Tower. The towers were originally built in the Ming Dynasty by Jiang Xiahou 江夏侯 under the Hongwu Emperor (1368-1398 AD) for military purposes to ward off pirates, and to act as landmarks for ships (kind of like lighthouses). Maoshan Tower was built in 1387 AD.
The tower also served as target for the PRC during the 823 Artillery War in 1958, killing many soldiers stationed around the tower. To make it less of a target for the communists, it was taken down for a few years. During deconstruction, a few people were crushed by the stones (the local people said this was due to the wrath of the ancestors). However, sometime around the end of martial law in Taiwan, the tower was rebuilt to its current form.
The tower was struck by lightning in 1997 causing some damage, so the Kinmen City Government installed a lightning rod on top of the tower.
How to get There:
By Scooter or Car: On Kinmen Island, take Xihai Raod Section 1 西海路一段 south past Shuitou Village and you will see it on top of a prominent hill.
Map: Please see below:
Siyu East and West forts are some of the best preserved fortifications in Taiwan dating back to the Ming Dynasty. They provide a rich history of the many invasions of Taiwan throughout the ages. Currently they are open to the public if you can get yourself over to the west side of Penghu.
How to Get there:
The easiest way to get there is to take a car or scooter from Magong to the very southernmost part of Siyu (Xiyu, or Fisher) Island.
Siyu East Fort: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM, closed on holidays
Siyu West Fort: Open all day every day!
Siyu East Fort: Free!
Siyu West Fort: 30 NT per adult, 15 NT for students and seniors
Map: Please see below:
Hu Shih was one of the greatest literary figures in the history of China, and completely changed the literary and scholarly world in China and Taiwan for the better. After he passed away, a memorial hall was erected in his honor as well as a graveyard park.
As a lifelong student of Chinese, I am a big fan of Mr. Hu, and hopefully after reading this blog you will be as well! I was surprised when I first moved to Nangang that his grave and memorial hall are right here, so of course I wanted to make a blog about it.
Who was Hu Shih?
The Taiwan Presidential Office building is the office for all presidents of Taiwan, past and present. One of the many historical buildings in Taipei, it is a beautiful Japanese era brick building, with a built in museum inside. It is open for tours to the public on weekdays, and is definitely worth a visit.
The building was first constructed during Japanese rule of Taiwan for the Governor-General of the island. A plan was chosen that included an eleven storey tower and European style elements. Like other Japanese buildings in Taiwan, it faced east toward the rising sun.
Construction began in 1912 and it was completed in 1919. Some of the bricks for the building came from the Songshan Brick Kiln which we have blogged about earlier. It was the highest building in Taipei until it was overtaken by the Hilton in 1973.
The building was damaged during an air raid in 1945 and was not repaired until the Taiwan Provincial Government under the ROC raised funds. When the ROC retreated to Taiwan in 1950, it became the Office of the President Chiang Kai-Shek. Since then, every sitting president of the ROC has used this building as their office, and it is currently used by President Tsai Yingwen. For more information click here.
How to get there:
The building is close to the NTU hospital MRT station:
Chengmei Bridge Changshou is one of the best preserved suspension bridges in Nangang, even though it is no longer a true suspension bridge. A few months ago we wrote a blog about the defunct suspension bridges along the Keelung River. This bridge is also lies in the Nangang/Neihu stretch of the Keelung River and was also once a suspension bridge, so I feel it deserves a blog as well.
History of Chengmei Changshou Bridge:
For this history, I will translate the sign on the bridge:
Chengmei Changshou Bridge (originally Changshou suspension bridge/ chengmei suspension bridge)
Changshou Suspension Bridge was built at the end Xinming road 452 Lane, and was the main bridge connecting Neihu, Zhoumei Nieghborhood to Nanagang and Songshan. In February 1948, construction was finished and Changshou Bridge and officially opened.
The bridge was opened by the mayor of Taipei at the time, You Mijian, to celebrate the 36th year of the ROC. In order to finish the bridge, a fund was created for the for which the people of Zhoumei Neighborhood contributed funds in order to improve the water-locked neighborhood. At the time, the chairman of Taiwan, Wei Daoming himself, created the “長壽吊橋“ “Changshou Bridge” signs that sat on both sides of the bridge.
After Neihu was incorporated into Taipei City, the name of the bridge changed to “Chengmei Suspension Bridge.” Nov 27th 1969, Chengmei Bridge received 2.5 million NT to undergo renovation. By June 1981, Chengmei Bridge was considered in disrepair and was closed; plans were also made for its destruction. Later, the local people created a “Chengmei Bridge maintenance committee” and urged to government to preserve the bridge. Those that joined the movement were citizens form Zhoumei and Nangang Yucheng Neighborhoods, about 500 people in total. The same year in August, a bronze bust of Chiang Kai Shek was erected on the north side of the bridge, and a ceremony was conducted as a means to keep the bridge from being destroyed. In the end, the city took down the bridge in 1984, but in October 1991 restored the bridge to its current form and named it, “Chengmei Changhsou Bridge.” The bridge now only allows foot traffic across the river.
Here is a time lapse of the bridge I have compiled using historic maps:
Actually quite a few people walk on this bridge, probably to get to the green line MRT from Nehihu. It’s proximity to nearby rainbow bridge and Raohe street also brings many tourists.
From the street level there is an illusion of green scenery in the background! A view back in time!
View of Rainbow Bridge to the West.
View of Chengmei Bridge to the east.
View from the Nangang side.
View from the Neihu side.
It lights up at night.
Chengmei Changshou Bridge lit up over the Keelung River.
During my tour of Chengmei Changshou Bridge, I couldn't help but take a few shots of Rainbow bridge that sits right next to it at next to Raohe Street. It is a much more photogenic bridge.
Rainbow Bridge is another pedestrian foot bridge that connects Neihu to Raohe Street in Songshan. It was completed in September of 2007. The total construction took two years and over 100 million TWD (3.4 million USD). The reason it is called Rainbow Bridge is because it is shaped like a rainbow.
Riding Ubikes along the river is a popular activity.
Another historically important building next to the Keelung River is the Zhouweizhuang Xingan Temple (洲尾莊興安宮). Before the levee around the Keelung River was built, there were many buildings that lay on the shore. However, only this Temple was allowed to remain, and as far as I can tell is the only building left on the Keelung River Park.
Are we still talking about Chengmei Changshou Bridge? Sorry. Well, as long as we're off topic, let me show you an abandoned house I found right across the street while taking photos from above of the bridge.
This abandoned house has an address of 南港路三段314巷3衖8號. I have no idea of the story behind this house, but I couldn’t help but snap a few photos.
Window into nature.
Closed door protecting garbage.
Huge pile of rubble.
Urban jungle. Sorry, was this post supposed to be about Changshou Bridge? Are your still reading this? Well, I still have some pictures of it that I can share!
What came first, the pile or the wall?
This bridge is biker friendly on both sides!
Neihu side of the bridge. No false paintings here.
There's the smokestack we wrote about earlier!
This sign says that the north side of the bridge is a "barbecue picnic area." While barbecuing, one must not affect pedestrians or cyclists in the area, and after barbecuing, patrons must clean the area and take out any garbage.
Chengmei Changshou Bridge has a rich history and an even better story of preservation. If only the local people around Taiwan were proactive like the people in Zhoumei and Yucheng Neighborhoods, a lot of Taiwan's past could be preserved for future generations. Now the bridge stands not only as a monument to Taipei's past, but also a great recreational area for tourists and locals alike.
Please like, comment, and share!
(updated below on 1/15/2019)
A few months ago we wrote a blog about the Songshan Sanatorium Superintendent’s Dormitory, a Japanese era building that is one of the best preserved in Taipei, which is sitting and rotting while the Taipei government figures out funding for its renovation. We were interested to find the actual sanatorium itself, and if it even still existed. It was not easy to find or easy to get to, but we did eventually find it…at least the part of it that is still standing.
I would love to tell everyone where it is, but as it lays on private and protected property; we will not disclose the explicit location. With the help of clues from other blogs and historical photos, we found it abandoned on private property that has 24/7 surveillance.
We did not find a single English article on this building, except in statistical research of the hospital facilities at the time. The building itself is not mentioned as a historical building registry of Taipei.
The original Japanese style, two-story, wooden Sanatorium was constructed in 1915 during the Japanese colonial period of Taiwan. Here is a picture of the original wooden Sanatorium (on the left), and the existing concrete extension: Also, here is a photo of the staff in front of the wooden Sanatorium during the Japanese colonial period. A Japanese Physician was assigned as superintendent, and his dormitory was built nearby (松山療養所所長宿舍）, which is now the best preserved and most well-known building connected to the Sanatorium.
The Sanatorium’s main purpose was to treat mentally disabled patients, and later was turned into a center to cure tuberculosis. It has had multiple names through the ages, beginning with松山錫口養生院 (Songshan Xikou Health Hospital), and then changed to 松山療養所 (Songshan Sanatorium) in 1925. When the ROC took control, its changed name was changed again to 台灣省立松山療養院, (Taiwan Provincial Songshan Sanatorium) in 1946, with the first superintendent being Yang TianMu (楊添木). It was also known as (or part of it was) 治肺結核療養所 (Tuberculosis Treatment Sanatorium).
Here are a few historical photos of the original wooden sanatorium, with surrounding fields, hills, and lakes. Lakes surrounded the area around what is now the Sanatorium. (Image taken fromhere, dated 1931)
Nowadays those lakes are mostly filled in, with Nangang Park and an Army base taking their place. There is still one lake left that is much smaller now due to silting. (Image above taken from here, dated 1916).
The original Japanese style wooden Sanatorium building sat on the west side of a prominent hill that at the time. The building had 29 beds in 1915, then the capacity expanded to 72 in 1933.
The cement building that remains was built in the 30s or 40s, probably around the time the Sanatorium’s capacity was expanded. Here is a video that shows changes to the Sanatorium overtime:
From old maps I can tell that the original wooden building was torn down by 1972 in favor of a new cement building, probably for the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Another brick building behind the current cement structure was built around 1965. At the same time, a group of Japanese era buildings below the hill were also torn down to build what is now the administrative buildings for the Ministry of Health and Welfare. By 2014 another historical building that sat in front of the now cement Sanatorium was torn down and the whole place was turned into a parking lot. All the buildings on the lot seemed to be abandoned when I was there. I assume that the whole plot of land now serves as a parking lot for the employees that work at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The intricate and beautiful two storey Japanese era wooden Sanatorium was torn down around 1972, so all that is left to photograph is the concrete expansion to the Sanatorium.
For more historical background, see our 1/15/2019 update below.
I visited the existing building at night, avoiding most of the employees that park there during the day time. The whole building is completely boarded up with sheet metal, with no way to peek inside.
There is also a lock and wooden boards blocking the main entrance.
On the entrance is spray painted "please do not park at the entrance," I guess they come in and out of it often? Perhaps it is used as a storage shed.
Again, all windows are completely shielded shut.
That car in the corner seemed to be abandoned as well.
There is an address plate still on the outer wall of the Sanatorium. You can see the Taipei 101 from the top of the hill. I’m sure in its time the surrounding lakes, mountains, and Taipei in the distance must have been a beautiful sight for all the patients in the Sanatorium
I ended my tour with a peek into the abandoned building behind the Sanatorium, the one that was built in about 1965. Perhaps this is what the innards of the Sanatorium look like? Probably not, but we may never know. I am not sure the significance of this building, but maybe I will visit again during the daytime when I can take some decent photos.
As with the Sanatorium Superintendent’s Dormitory, I think Taipei City and the Ministry of Health and Welfare want to keep this building hidden and secret. If this building were considered a historical building, then they would be forced to renovate and be burdened with pulling money out of their budget to fix up the place. I’m surprised that the building has not been knocked over earlier to make more room for parking space.
We apologize that we have given so little information about the Sanatorium, but there are very limited resources. We’ll be sure to update this blog we learn of anything further.
We are sad to announce that as of January 13th, 2019 the Songshan Sanatorium has been unlawfully leveled to the ground. Below is a news piece on the building:
We also visited ground zero after being informed of its destruction.
The Sanatorium has been flattened to the ground, separated into different piles of bricks, metal, and wood.
The parking lot in front of the demolished building is full to the brim. You can tell some people would like the parking lot expanded.
Pile of bricks and wood with the old sheet metal in the background.
Precious Japanese era woodwork torn to pieces.
More wood and metal wire in a heap.
Metal bracing is piled into a heap on one side.
Why was the Songshan Sanatorium torn down?
The Songshan Sanatorium sat in a protected vacant lot on the near the Ministry of Health and Welfare headquarters. Most people that passed by would never have seen it, because it was protected by tree cover at the top of a hill, and because of that not many people studied it or ever even thought about it.
On October 8th, 2018 the Ministry of Culture head Tsai-Zongxiong (蔡宗雄) convened a cultural assessment on the building, which included three cultural information committee members (probably administrative employees at the ministry of culture). After their assessment they concluded that the Songshan Sanatorium had no cultural value. NO CULTURAL VALUE!!!
Although they saw the building was well preserved, they were unsure of the date it was built, and so not special features in the building. The information they had led them to believe the building was built in 1970 (when the building was registered as an ROC ministry of health building). However, as you can see from by blog above, this building was built in around 1940 during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.
On the morning of January 12th, Assistant Professor at National Taipei University of Business Hsiao Wenjie (蕭文杰) heard through a Facebook group that the building was soon to be knocked down, and rushed to the building site. Knowing the building's true historic value, he called upon the ministry of culture to enact Article 20 of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, which states that "historic buildings...undergoing the review under any of Articles 17 to 19 shall be deemed as interim monuments."
The ministry of culture agreed in word and said that construction would stop. Professor Hsiao waited at the scene for 5 hours, standing in the way of the excavator to stop the destruction, however the Ministry of Culture officials never arrived (it was a Saturday after all).
During that time, professor Hsiao sent some live video of the insides of the building that had been closed off to the public (also seen in the news clip above). He filmed a catwalk structure on the roof, showed that the room numbers still preserved, and that an intricate era woodwork that was well preserved on the roof of the building.
After never receiving word from the Ministry of culture, the demolition continued. However, Hsiao's video had already gone viral and the public was made aware of the demolition that was supposed to be kept a secret.
So why was the Sanitarium torn down so quickly? As I said in my original blog, probably someone at the Ministry of health and welfare wanted more parking space.
How was the Demolition Unlawful?
In the video above, Mayor of Taipei Ke-Wenzhe responds to professor Hsiao's attacks by saying "These procedures all followed SOP, I don't know what he's so mad about." WRONG! these procedures did NOT follow SOP, let's list the unlawful/unethical parts of the ministry of culture's actions here:
Why was the Songshan Sanatorium Culturally Important?
Much of the history and background of the building has come to the public's attention after it's destruction, thanks to Professor Hsiao andnews agencies in Taiwan. I was missing many of the details when I first made by blog in 2017, but here they are (in addition to my blog) as follows:
What did the Songshan Sanatorium look like on the inside?
Please see the video professor Hsiao made here for a full view of the insides.
On Sunday afternoon Jan. 13th I got a message on Facebook from someone telling me that the Sanatorium had been destroyed. After watching the emotional video of professor Hsiao standing in the way of the back hoe as well as cursing the Ministry of Culture, I was very deeply emotionally moved. It felt like a good friend had just died. It was unjust. You can count the historical buildings in Nangang on ONE HAND, and they just decided to destroy perhaps the most historically important building in the whole district. They should have preserved the building for future generations. I told professor Hsiao that if I has known earlier, I would have stood by his side blocking the way of the excavator.
It was an honor to have photographed and researched this building before it was destroyed. Looking back it was truly special to photograph an important historical building that is now gone forever. I was reached out to by UDN to provide the photographs from my blog, because literally no one else had any modern photographs of the building on the internet. I have done my part to help preserve Taiwan's past, but I wish I could have done more. It makes me think, what if I had been more proactive on getting the word out that this building exists and is important? Would it still be standing today?
I hope the ministry of culture employees like the parking lot they traded in for a unrepeatable historic monument. After all, a parking space in Taipei runs from around 2 million NT upwards, which is almost enough to buy you a house in Kaohsiung.
The most ironic and hypocritical part of this whole story is that the Taipei City Government went to such extreme lengths to preserve the Songshan Sanitarium Superintendent's Dormitory, but decided that the actual Sanatorium was of no worth. In fact, the Dormitory was worth so much, that the Taipei Government spent 1.4 million NT per ping on the last parcel of land remaining on the property so that they could restore the house. I'll tell you why there is such a discrepancy, because the Dormitory is in plain sight from street view, but no one could see the Sanatorium on top of the hill behind a parking gate!
The bigger crime here that no one is talking about is that the ROC government tore down the main wooden sanatorium building that sat at the top of the hill during the martial law period, which was truly beautiful and more significant that what we have now. In its place they build two ugly ROC era cement buildings that are way passed their prime and sit in disuse next to what was once the Sanatorium.
It is clear that the Ministry of Culture and Ke-Wenzhe don't care about historical buildings in Taiwan, especially if the buildings are not in public view. It is clear to see that they tried to pass an inspection and have the building destroyed behind closed doors. No one knew the building existed in the first place so no one would care right? Thank goodness for professor Hsiao.
Ke-wenzhe of all people should appreciate medical history of Taiwan, and the historically important contributions that were made in this building to curing and treating tuberculosis.
But at the end of the day it is clear the Ke-Wenzhe and Culture Minister Tsai-Zongxiong have other budget concerns, so getting rid of an old building is just one less thing to pay for and to worry about (after all, the government spent 670 million NT preserving Losheng Sanatorium). What we are teaching our children in Taiwan is that money is more important than preserving our heritage.
It's sad that the Taiwan government didn't see the value in this historically building. I can understand I would be expensive to renovate and upkeep, but it was very wrong to try to secretly knock it down. If they would have promoted it to the public and international community and let then know of its importance, it might have just paid for itself one day.
After the ROC took control of Taiwan in 1945, the government designated Taipei's Nangang (南港） as an industrial district. At this time, the brick making and coal mining industries were starting to wind down, and other industries such as chemical plants, tire factories, fertilizer, and others were taking off. A forest of Smokestacks covered the area, and and because of this Nangang was known as Black Town “黑鄉.” For a view of what the old Nangang looked like, click here.
Songshan Brick Factory Smokestack 松山磚廠烟囪
Of the many smokestacks that once covered Nangang, only 3 remain standing, and there is another which is highly damaged. The first smokestack I will talk about is not very well known at all. In fact I only found one blog that mentions it, calling it "南港繁華的磚廠遺址," and there is also a facebook page that someone created for it, which has a pretty good history of the place. This factory is still in use as a banana field/garage.
曾經覆蓋南港的煙囪中，只剩下3個，還有一被破損的煙囪。 我會說的第一個煙囪根本不是很有名。 其實我只找到一個提到它的部落格，稱它為“南港繁華的磚廠遺址”，還有人為它創建的Facebook頁面，這個頁面有很好的地方歷史。 這家工廠目前有香蕉場/車庫的作用。
To paraphrase from the Facebook page, the kiln was one of many brick kilns in the surrounding neighborhoods. After the tea industry began to decline in Nangang, brick making became the mainstay for the area. Clay was harvested from what is now Songshan station, which was ideal for brick making. There were smokestacks pretty much everywhere (making for terrible air quality), and pretty everyone that lived at what is now the border between Nangang an Songshan was involved in the brick making process in some way. There were roughly 50 workers at each brick kiln, earning roughly 200 NT a day. At the time, the brick kiln had the most advanced technology available and could produce 18,000-20,000 bricks a day! The quality was especially fine at the Bagua kiln (across the street from this one, now destroyed). The bricks from that kiln were crack resistant, and some were used in what is now the presidential office building in Taipei.
從Facebook的頁面來解釋，這個窯是周圍社區的眾多磚窯之一。 南港茶業開始衰落後，製磚成為該地區的中流砥柱。 從現在的松山車站收穫粘土，這是製磚的理想選擇。 幾乎到處都是煙囪（造成可怕的空氣質量），而那些生活在南港和松山之間邊界的每一個人，都以某種方式參與了製磚的過程。 每座磚窯大約有50名工人，每天能掙大約200新台幣。 當時，磚窯擁有最先進的技術，每天可以生產1.8萬到2萬塊磚！ 八卦窯的質量特別好（與現在的馬街隔街相望）。 那個窯裡的磚頭是抗裂的，有的被用在現在的台北總統辦公樓裡。
As environmental regulations tightened and demand for bricks decreased, the factory decided to shut down in 1971. After that, the kiln went back to nature, and the owner filled the kiln in with garbage and rubble. The Taipei City government wanted to make the brick kiln into a historical building, but the owner of the kiln did not want to. To escape the city's grasp, he even destroyed the Bagua kiln across the street. In the end the owner got away with it because he owned the property.
隨著環保法規的緊縮和對磚塊的需求下降，工廠決定在1971年關閉。之後，窯爐回歸自然，窯主用垃圾和瓦礫填滿了窯爐。 台北市政府想把磚窯變成一座歷史悠久的建築，但窯主並不想。 為了逃離城市，他甚至摧毀了馬路對面的八卦窯。 所有者最終因為擁有這個財產而逃走了。
This place was actually so hard to find that I came across it by accident having nothing to go on but a picture from the former blog. The smokestack itself is not that prominent either because it is hid in the middle of a bunch of buildings.
Do you see the brick kiln? Look again.
This historic brick kiln is now hidden on the side of a busy road and is now covered in bushes. If you didn't know what you were looking for, it could easily be mistaken as a brick wall or a mound of dirt.
After discovering the brick factory, I decided to investigate the smokestack first.
In order to get to the base, I had to walk behind some houses in the alley behind the smokestack. I found much garbage. I think this has something to do with the recycling plant next door.
為了到達烟囪，我不得不走在煙囪後面胡同後面的一些房屋後面。 我發現很多垃圾。 我認為這與隔壁的回收工廠有關。
And there it is, the smokestack base in all its glory. Obviously completely out of use.
Someone had made the old brick factory into their own private garage/storage.
If you look closely you can see the opening to the brick kiln, and apparently it has been filled in with rubble. I then began to investigate the brick kiln itself.
From the road, I climbed on top of the brick kiln to the banana field above. You would never notice you're on a brick kiln except for the square holes in the ground.
I then decided to get a view of the smokestack from the other side.
From this angle, I could see no opening at the bottom of the smokestack, which I thought was interesting.
After I went home, I searched the factory using some old maps on the Center for GIS research on the Acadamia Cinica website. Here is a video compiling areal photos of the brick kiln over time:
You may notice that there were once two brick kilns and smokestacks next to each other. The brick kiln on the left of the image, Bagua Kiln, has been torn down by the owner, apparently to not have to deal with the property becoming a historical building. All that remains now is an asphalt lot (pictured below). However next to the asphalt lot is a historical residence (dating back to the Bagua kiln) that is still lived in today.
你可能會注意到有兩座磚窯和煙囪相鄰。 圖像左側的磚窯八卦窯已被業主拆除，顯然不需要處理該物業成為歷史建築。 現在剩下的就是一個瀝青堆（如下圖）。 然而，旁邊的瀝青地段是一個歷史悠久的住宅（可追溯到八卦窯），現在仍然住在這裡。
So basically, the owner is a selfish guy who would rather tear down his historical property making it worthless, than preserving for the city and its citizens to enjoy. The lot now just sits there, not even as a parking lot, just an empty asphalt lot.
Nangang Tire Factory Smokestack 南港輪胎公司煙囪
By the 1950s after coal mining and the brick industry had begun to slow down, Nangang was designated as an industrial district for tires, fertilizer, flower, chemicals, and other industries. Taiwan’s first tire factory, the old Nangang tire factory built in 1959 (which is now an empty lot between Civic Blvd. and Nangang Road) used to have very prominent smokestack that was later designated as a historical building, but was torn down recently.
In its prime, the tire factory was the economic center of Nangang. All that remains of the factory and smokestack now is a small stub in the ground part of an empty lot. There are still many tire stores, bus depots, car repair shops, car rental shops, car sales outlets, as well as driver’s education courses in Nangang. These remnants from an older time seem now to clash with the modern developments in Nangang.
輪胎廠在巔峰時期是南港的經濟中心。 現在工廠和煙囪裡剩下的只剩下一小塊土地的一小部分了。 南崗還有很多輪胎店，汽車站，汽車修理店，汽車出租店，汽車銷售點以及駕訓班。 這些舊時代的殘餘現在似乎與南港的現代事態發展相衝突。
Areal view of the destroyed smokestack.
The entire factory has been leveled into a brown lot, apparently to make way for a shopping mall that so no signs of construction.
The fence around the lot blew down after a typhoon one day, giving us a rare glimpse inside (faint rainbow in the background).
After visiting the tire factory plot and taking pictures, I noticed that the original smokestack rested in the center of the the lot, not on the side where it rests today. Proof of this can be found in historical aerial photos:
The Nangang Tire Factory Smokestack was listed as a historical building at one time, so it is surprising that is was torn down, and then moved. I am guessing the only reason that one small part of the smokestack still exists on the property is because it was listed as a historical building, so they couldn't destroy "all" of it, or something. I don't know.
南港輪胎廠煙囪一度被列為歷史建築，被拆遷後感到驚訝。 我猜測，房子裡一小撮煙囪依然存在的唯一原因，是因為它被列為歷史建築，所以它們不能摧毀它的“全部”，或者什麼東西。 我不知道。
Liberty Factory Smokestack in Nangang 利百代南港工廠烟囪
The third smokestack I will discuss in Nangang is the Liberty Factory smokestack, which sits in the middle of the Liberty stationary factory. This smokestack is not very obvious to the average passerby, and is not open to the public.
Liberty is a popular stationary brand in Taiwan, and their Nangang factory hires quite a few employees. I'm not saying that I actually investigated this smokestack, but there may have been a time when the security guard was on his dinner break and perhaps I got a peek inside. I did not take any photographs, but I could see that the smokestack is still connected to the stationary factory. Whether it is still in use or not I do not know, but I doubt that it is.
利百代是台灣頗受歡迎的固定品牌，南港工廠聘用了不少員工。 我並不是說我調查過這個煙囪，但是可能有一段時間，當保安人員在他的晚餐休息時間，也許我在裡面窺視。 我沒有拍攝任何照片，但我可以看到煙囪仍然連接到固定工廠。 不管它是否還在使用我都不知道，但是我懷疑它是不是。
The entrance to the factory. Perhaps you have seen their products before?
Jaguar Land Rover Smokestack 路虎和捷豹車煙囪
The fourth smokestack in Nangang is perhaps the hardest to find. It lies in the guarded parking lot behnd the Jaguar and Land Rover car dealerships on Nangang Road, very much not open to the public. Seeing as there are guards there 24/7 with no breaks protecting the vehicles in the overflow parking lot, I have no further information regarding this smokestack.
南港的第四個煙囪也許是最難找到的。 在南港路的捷豹和路虎汽車經銷店裡，有一個守衛的停車場，非常不開放。 看到那裡有警衛24/7沒有休息地保護在溢出停車場車輛，我沒有關於這煙囪進一步的信息。
Model Smokestack Preservation: Huashan 1914 Creative Park Smokestack
The next smokestack I will discuss is actually in Zhongzheng District, Taipei, but it is a great example of how Nangang should be preserving its past. Huashan 1914 Park in Taipei was originally a wine factory, built in 1914 (as its name suggests). The smokestack itself was built in1931 and was used to fuel the heat needed for the distillery. In the late 90's, early 2000's, a few artists discovered the well-preserved abandoned spaces that the distillery provided and started to hold private performances there. Later the place became more and more popular, and eventually the government decided to turn the place into a creative park.
我將要討論的下一個煙囪實際上是在台北中正區，但它是南港如何保存過去的一個很好的例子。 華山1914文化創意產業園區是一座建於1914年的酒廠（顧名思義）。 煙囪本身建於1931年，用於燃燒酒廠所需的熱量。 九十年代末，二十年代初，一些藝術家發現了酒廠提供的保存完好的廢棄空間，並開始在那裡舉辦私人表演。 後來這個地方越來越受歡迎，最終政府決定把這個地方變成一個創意園。
The smokestack sits on the west side of the park, with no signs or explanations to tell you what its purpose was.
Fuel loading door. 燃料裝載門。
Gauges and pipes perhaps connecting to the distillery.
Huashan park might do a better job at preserving the surrounding buildings than the actual smokestack, but it is still leaps and bound ahead of all efforts in Nangang.
Although technological innovation and new development projects are exciting (such as the new exhibition centers, City Link, CTBC building, and music hall), I feel that Nangang is neglecting its rich historic past. Many historic buildings are sitting in decay without a way for the public to appreciate them. Other historic sites, such as the Nangang tire factory smokestack have been completely demolished. I hope that in the future Nangang can continue to develop, but not wipe out its own past in the process. The scattered and scarce historical sites that still remain in Nangang should be protected, refurbished, and opened for future generations to enjoy. The District should take Huashan Creative park as an example, and use these historic sites for the public's value and well being, and not let them sit in decay, or worse, destroy them.
雖然技術創新和新開發項目令人興奮（如新展覽中心，城市連接，CTBC大廈，音樂廳），但我覺得南港忽略了其悠久的歷史。 許多歷史悠久的建築正在衰敗中，沒有一種方法讓公眾去欣賞它們。 南港輪胎廠煙囪等其他歷史遺跡已全部拆除。 我希望今後的南鋼能夠繼續發展，而不是在這個過程中抹去自己的過去。 仍然留在南崗的零星稀缺的歷史遺跡應該得到保護，翻新，開放供後人享用。 該區應以華山創意園為例，將這些歷史遺跡用於公眾的價值和福祉，不要讓它們坐在頹廢中，或者更糟糕的是摧毀它們。
Please like, comment, and share!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.