Fort San Domingo (aka 紅毛城 Hongmaocheng, “City of Red Hair") is one of the oldest buildings in Taiwan, with a nearly 400 year history. Originally built by the Spanish, it was handed over to nine different nations including the Dutch, Qing, Japan, British, Australia, USA, and the ROC. Now it is a popular tourist destination in Tamsui.
Fort San Domingo was originally a wooden fort built by the Spanish who were vying for control of Taiwan in 1628. Later the fort came into Dutch control in 1642, and the Spanish were driven from Taiwan. In the process, the Spanish razed the fort to the ground. The fort was rebuilt in brick by the Dutch. The Dutch were expelled from Taiwan thanks to Konxinga and his Ming loyalists.
After the Qing dynasty took Taiwan from the Ming loyalists, they repaired the fort in 1724.
The local Han Chinese at the time called the fort "Red Hair Fort 紅毛城" as a racial slur to the Dutch.
Later, the fort was leased to the British government, who continued to keep a presence there until 1972, and later it was given for a short time to Australia and the USA, and then given to the ROC government in 1980. Now the government maintains the fort as a tourist attraction.
9:30 AM to 5 PM
80 NT per person (includes passage to the British Consulate, Hobe Fort, and the Little White House).
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 north from Taipei until you reach Tamsui. The fort is past Tamsui Old Street on highway 2. Parking can be hard to find, but there should be plentiful parking at Tamsui Elementary School and other places further away.
By MRT: Take the red line MRT north to Tamsui station and walk 1 KM north or take a bus to the fort.
Please see below:
I recommend coming early in the day so that you can get the most out of the 80 NT ticket that lets you see multuple historic sites.
At the bottom of the fort is a souvenir shop and some nice bathrooms.
If you come from below, there are some stairs you need to walk up to get to the fort.
A bear in British soldier uniform.
Map of the fort in relation to the rest of Tamsui.
The Taiwanese flag flies at the top of the fort now.
View of the fort from the side.
View of the Tamsui River and Mt. Guanyin from the fort. Seems like it had a good vantage point for attacking ships.
The many flags of the former nations that owned the fort hang out in front, including Spain, the Netherlands, Koxinga, and the Qing Dynasty.
Australia, Britain, Japan, America, and the ROC have also owned the fort.
Bathroom and Kitchen in front of the fort.
You can sit down and take a selfie with a fake Dutch man.
Chinese style kitchen outside the main fort.
A courtyard in front of the fort.
Apparently the courtyard space was once used for prisoners.
Inside the fort on the first level, with some historical exhibitions.
Fake prisoner inside the cell.
There are nine cannons outside, some of which were put here originally during the Qing Dynasty.
The building was made with fireproof red brick and arched doorways.
Model of the fort.
Some more cells.
Original stone steps.
The fort has 1.9 meter thick walls, with the first floor an open space and the second floor having vaulted ceilings. After 1863, the building was renovated with more red brick.
View of the main tower.
The stairway up to the top of the tower is off limits.
The british consular residence was completed in 1891 next to the fort.
The original fort was built out of wood, as depicted in the painting above.
After Koxinga took the fort, he added two more gateways, and renamed it Tamsui Fort.
Archaeological items recovered from the fort.
Balcony and fireplace inside.
Old pottery and baby carriage.
Incinerator used to destroy confidential documents.
Masonry objects from the buildings.
Pottery and shells found at the site.
After the Spanish left, the Dutch built a new brick fort with two levels and four rooms on each floor, calling it Fort Anthony.
View of the British Consular Residence through the window.
Another balcony above.
View of the Tamsui River from the entrance of the fort.
Floor plan of the fort.
Timeline of events in Taiwan.
Cute animation of the history of For San Domingo.
View of the back wall.
Another view from behind the fort.
Courtyard behind the fort.
Another view of the fort from behind.
Nine cannons sit near the fort, most of which are historical.
How to load and shoot a cannon.
Cannons pointing toward the Tamsui River.
Closeup on an old cannon.
This canon has seen better days.
Another view of the cannons.
Side view of the fort.
Looking to the top of the fort.
Another view of the entrance.
Thanks for reading! For our full blog on the British Consular Residence which sits right next to the fort, click here.
For our full guide on the best things to see and do in the Tamsui Area, click here.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling 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.