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:
Juguang Tower was not hard to find; it sits on a hill above Kincheng. Free parking is available in front of the building.
Once you walk in, you are immediately immersed in information about Kinmen. Above are all the flight paths to Kinmen from Taiwan. Direct flights are available from Taipei, Taichung. Chiayi, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. There is also a ferry route between Kaohsiung and Kinmen.
The main room on the first floor, where they might have screenings of films. The sign above says "毋忘在莒 wuwangzaiju" which means "don't forget the days of Ju," which refers to the warring states period of China when the city of Ju was taken. Chiang Kai-shek took this saying to mean "Don't forget our days in China" or basically to take back the mainland.
Map of Xiamen and Kinmen.
"In Kinmen, most traditional settlements are single lineage villages. Ancestral halls are the focal point of a village. The array of houses follows patriarchal hierarchy. They tend to be arranged in a grid-like format, oriented in the same direction."
"In general, traditional houses in Kinmen were set within a walled enclosure in which buildings were arranged either parallel or at right angles to the enclosure's front facade with one or more courtyards in the open space linking the buildings. In response to increases in resident population or to topographical constraints, additional quarters would be added either to the side of the house or to the back of the house. Horseback shaped roofs and roofs with swallow tail ends covered with red tiles atop the buildings' stone walls shaped the skyline of a village."
"In the late Qing period, there were several surges of migration to Southeast Asia from Kinmen. Some of the migrants were o successful that they sent money back to renovate ancestral halls or to build new houses. It is important to note that the exposure of Kinmen immigrants in southeast Asia to Western Colonial architecture influenced the building of Western Style houses back in Kinmen. In addition, some houses built with this money are a combination of Chinese and Western style architecture. The Western style houses are magnificent, with unusual decoration. Amid traditional Chinese houses in the villages, Western Style houses exhibit exotic elegance."
"Legend of Earth - Cermaica & Potteries of Kinmen"
"The Kinmen Islands are made up of chiefly igneous rocks, which in places contain procelain clay. This has provided an opportunity to develop a porcelain industry on Kinmen, and there is a state owned Kinmen Cermaic Factory as well as some privatre porcealin kilns producing ceramic products in Kinmen."
"Kinmen cermic Factory was establishded in 1962, the only official kiln of the Republic of China."
"Visit to Historic Sites"
"Settlement of Kinmen took place before that of Taiwan and the Pescadores. The history of Kinmen can be traced back to the East Jin Dynasty (about fourth century AD). People fled war and disasters in the north of China to settle in Kinmen. In the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), an official Horse-raising Superintendent Chen Yuan brought settlrs from twelve families to Kinmen. During the song Dynasty, the people of Kinmen were exposed to the teachings of Zhu Xui, a great Neo-Confucian philosopher and official of Tongan County under which Kinmen was administered. due to Zhu Xi's influence, Kinmen has a profound culture and an emergence of many imperial degree titleholders in the Ming and Qing Dynasty."
"Kinmen County has a high density of historic sites, with abundant historic relics ranging from grand ancestral halls, ancient temples and imperial monuments, to residences of acclaimed historic figures. Total of 43 historical sites are registered in the record of Cultural Assets Preservation Law, including 8 national historical heritages. Kinmen is indeed rich in culture and history."
"A Snapshot of Sorghum" "Half a Centuries Aroma of Liquor - Kinmen Sorghum Liquor"
"Kinmen Distillery produced various types of sorghum liquor. top grade sorghum liquor (aka "White Golden Dragon") is the best seller, and annual production is up to 22,410,000 liters."
"Aged top grade sorghum liquor (aka Chengao") is matured in cellars for five years before being bottled. The process of aging transforms its spicy flavor into a lovely aroma. Aged top grade sorghum liquor is the best sorghum liquor"
"Sorghum can only survive in warm and dry environments and Kinmen's climate is eminently suitable for growing sorghum. The Kinmen county government established the Kinmen distillery in 1958, and encourages farmers to grow sorghum through the exchange of one kilo of sorghum for one kilo of rice. Later, the government shifted to buying sorghum at a guaranteed price. Consequently, sorghum fields are now widespread all over Kinmen."
"Summer and autumn are the harvest seasons. Farmers reap sorghum stalks and lay them on the roads. The purpose was twofold. Besides to dry the sorghum in the sun, farmers can utilize passing automobiles to crush the sorghum grain. The sorghum-covered road has become a unique scene in the country side."
"Kinmen Sorghum liquor is renowned for its full aroma. Sorghum, the major ingredient, is locally grown. Kinmen-grown sorghum grains are particularly full and firm. Water is crucial to the process of distilling. Kinmen sorghum liquor is made form crystal-clear water from the underground granite stratum. Clean air also contributes to the quality of sorghum liquor. Kinmen Distillery follows traditional processes to produce the liquor, which once distilled is placed in cellars to age."
Kinmen knives made from fallen artillery ordinance launched from China. There are many of these knife shops in Kinmen if you fancy this kind of souvenir.
Some signs introducing the local culture of Kinmen.
Stylized painting of Kinmen Island, Juguang tower being the defining feature.
An exhibition honoring General Hulian.
Fancy ceiling decorations on the second floor.
ROC medals given to former generals.
Former desk and memorabilia of General Hulian.
Exhibition for the battle of Guningtou and the 823 Artillery War (for more info, click on the links in the background section of this blog).
View from the top story for the tower.
The main sign saying "Juguang Tower" "莒光樓”
From the top of the tower you can see Little Kinmen. Chenggong Island and Xiamen Island.
View to the South.
From the North you can see Kincheng.
"Canton Porridge 廣東粥"
"It is said that emigrants to Southeast Asia stopped in Canton on their way back to Kinmen, and brought the recipe of Canton Porridge back to Kinmen, To cook Canton Porridge, water and rice are first mixed well in a pot. Once the mixture is boiling, meat or seafood and spice are added. People eat the delicious porridge with deep fried twisted dough or baked flat bread."
"Sticky Thin Noodles with Oysters 麵線糊"
"this noodles, oysters, and sweet potato starch are the major ingredients in Kinmen thin noodles. The quality of the ingredients determines the texture of the dish. Firstly, to give the correct resilient texture, thin noodles must be hand-made. Secondly, one must choose oysters grown on stone stakes because these oysters are particulalry full and succulent. Thirdly, only locally made sweet potato starch is used to coat the oster; oysters coated in local sweet potato starch taste particulalry smooth. The aroma of thin noodles with oysters is unforgettable."
"Chinese Ox Beef 黃牛肉"
"The meat of local Chinese oxen is tender and delicate because the cattle feed on unpolluted grass and the residue left over from brewing. As well, the fast is distributed evenly through the meat. Toursits are attracted to the Chinese ox beef of Kinmen, and Chinese ox beef jerky is also a popular snack."
"Sand Worms live in the mud flats of the inter-tidal zone stretching from Shuitou to Xiyuan. They move swiftly. There are three knacks for enjoying the marvelous crisp taste of sand worms - catch the sand worms fast, stir fry them rapidly, and eat them hastily as soon as the dish is served."
"Oysters from Kinmen are smaller than those from Taiwan. However, they are full and succulent because they are grown in clear unpolluted waters."
Once you're done looking around the tower, don't forget to take a picture in front of the "Happy Kinmen 幸福金門" sign!
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Kinmen.
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.