Hengchun's old walled city is the best preserved walled city in Taiwan, with all the city gates intact, as well as most of the city wall. The city was built to help contain the native population after the Rover and Mudan incidents. It is definitely a well preserved historical area and worth a trip if you go to Kenting.
Originally the area around Hengchun was goverened by the Qing dynasty under Fengshan County. However after the Rover Incident and Mudan Incident (in which Taiwan indigenous tribes massacred foreign shipwrecked sailors), the Qing decided to take a more assertive role in governing the area and controlling the native populations.
The walls of Hengchun were built as a brick wall and four gates in 1879, and after it was built Hengchun County was established, meaning eternal spring, due to the tropical climate in the area.
After the Japanese took Taiwan, some of the walls were torn down to make roads. There was also a railway made that went through the south city gate. Many of the city gates lasted until well into the 1900s, but because they were made of wood they rotted and collapsed easily.
Now the gates have been mostly restored, and much of the northern and eastern walls remain.
Please see the existing city gates marked with red castle icons below:
I have been to Hengchun many times and I am always impressed by the well preserved historical walls and gates in this town. This is truly the best preserved fort town in Taiwan and for anyone interested in history, I highly recommend visiting.
West Gate 西門
The first gate I will show you is the west gate, which is my favorite gate because so much traffic still passes through it.
There is also a big stretch of wall still attached to it.
View of the west city gate at night.
Small diorama of Hengchun City.
Hengchun Old Street 恆春老街
Hengchun old street is the street that passes through the west gate. You can say that every street in the city is old, but this one is especially named the old street, probably because it has the most shops on it.
A small temple at the foot of Shipao Park in front of the gate.
Scooter and cars passing through the west gate.
"The west gate tower was torn down in the year of the Taisho Era, (1914) during Japanese colonial period (early 1900), only the battlements on the caste and the gate were left intact, This area was the central business distract in the former Hengchun ancient town. At the south side of the gate, the imitational stone tablet at the south of the gate was proclaimed in the 2nd year in the reign of Qing Emperor Kuang Hsu (1876 AD), and mainly described the decree and penalty that prohibit committing suicide and accusing someone else wrongly for the suicide."
View looking north.
You can walk along the intact wall to the east.
Another view of the inact wall to the west.
View looking down the old street to the south.
Another stone slab explaining the history.
3D map of Hengchun.
See above for more photos of the old street, west gate, and Shipai Park.
Eroding wall near the west gate.
Another view of the eroding wall.
Well preserved wall looking east.
Not so well preserved wall to the west.
Monkey Hole Mountain Stone Tablet 猴洞山石牌
Monkey hole mountain is a small coral hill in Hengchun. It is known as one of the "eight scenes" of Hengchun. It is so named because in historical times it was home to a pack of monkeys. The rocks were incorporated into the city to improve Fengshui.
There are actually a few stone tablets here, and this is just one of them.
One of the stone tablets at night.
View from the top of the hill over Shipai Park.
There is a trail the goes along the top of the hill through the coral rocks.
Another stone tablet commemorating the preparation of armaments at the city.
East Gate 東門
The next gate on the list is the East Gate.
View of the East Gate at night.
The nearby walls are also lit up at night.
Sorry for the lense blur. This is the main road that passes right next to the east gate.
"The East Gate was the main road to Manchou Township. The East Gate wall is 500 meters, and is the only one still intact. The other battlements and emplacement around this gate are also kept well. All of the towers and upper passages in the gates except the southern gate are open to pedestrians. While walking in the upper passages on the castle, you can overlook nearby scenery."
View of the east gate from the other side.
View inside the gate.
View from the top of the gate looking east.
View to the south.
View to the north.
Another view to the east.
View looking west toward downtown.
Wooden beam inside.
Old hole for a door beam.
"International Pole Climbing (chiang Ku) Pavilion 國際搶孤棚"
Next to the east gate is the “International Pole Climbing (chiang Ku) Pavilion." Like in Mulan, every year people come to have races to see who can climb the poles the fastest.
See more photos of the pole clibming place above.
Army tank in front of the north gate.
North Gate 北門
There is a road that goes through the north gate, but it does not get as much traffic as the west gate.
View of the north gate at night.
Bus stop and map of Hengchun.
Stone stairway to the top.
View looking east.
View to the west.
View from a gun hole.
The wall going to the west is also well preserved.
View to the south.
View of the walls near the north gate at night.
South Gate 南門 (Mingdu Gate 明都門)
The gate at the very south is known as the South Gate or Mingdu Gate. It is in the middle of a roundabout and is the only city gate in Hengchun that is not connected to a city wall.
View of the south gate at night.
“Restoration Description for Monument - The South Gate Tower of Hengchun Ancient Town"
"Hengchun ancient town was built in the later Qing Dynasty in 1875. According to the Journal of Hengchun county," the land bears a circumference of 8800 feet (2933 M) around. The actual proportion of the ancient town building is 8359 feet, 5 inches (2787 M) with the base thickness of 20 feet (6.7 M) thje base depth if 3 feet 5 inches (about 1.13 M)m the interior height 13 feet 4 inches (4.5 M), and the wall thickness is 16 feet (5.33 meters). There are four gate towers around the four sides, which the south gate tower is called "Ming-tu Gate," while the others are named after its direction. The base of each gate tower is 69 feet (about 23 meters) in width and 17 feet (5.7 M) in height. The openings both inside and outside the tower. The inner portion of the gate openings is 13 feet (4.3 M) both in height and width, and 22 feet in depth (7.3 M) while the external portion, both the height and width is 11 feet (3.7 M) and the depth is 8 feet, 6 inches (2.86 M).
"It's also known as the "Ming-Du Gate," the South Gate has been the main passage from Hengchun ancient town to Nanwan and Kenting scenic areas. During Japanese colonial era, there was a railway going through the gate, which runs the freight wagons from Nanwan and Hengchun and we could imagine how busy it was during the flourishing times with cargos and workforces."
View of the front of the gate.
View looking south.
View of the woodwork on top.
Stone and brickwork inside.
Another view inside.
The walls on either side were cut off to make way for the road.
Extant part of the south wall visible here.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs on Kenting to come.
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