The Swiss Mountain Village Castle was abandoned for over 20 years. Originally a meeting retreat for the Tai ji Men, a Taiwan religious group, it then came under possession of the government while its owner underwent tax investigation. In 2020, the charges on the man were dropped and the property was returned, but by that time it had been sitting in ruins for decades. I am not sure if the building will be renovated or torn down in the future.
Taiji men was formed in 1966 and is a religion, but considers itself a school for physical and spiritual well being especially through the use of Tai Chi. For more info about the religion see here.
The Swiss Mountain Village was one like any other in the area, a place where somewhat wealthy people in the Taipei area would build villas and retreats. Swiss Mountain Village in Xizhi is not the most ideal place to live now. Residents there have to deal with not having piped water from the city, for one. At the beginning, the neighborhood built a community center which is the castle we know now. Mr. Hong built the community center in 1996 to use as a meeting place for his religions events.
What got Mr. Hong in trouble was a tax investigation to profits earned from some of his Tai Chi schools in Taipei. Originally the tax office thought that his schools should be taxed the same way as a cram school, but Hong contended that it was a non profit religious organization and should not be taxed. After over 20 years and 18 court battles Mr. Hong finally won the fight against the tax office, and the assets frozen during the legal fight were finally returned to him in 2020.
For more about the background on this castle, see here.
Since the property is now in private hands, I do not recommend visiting so I will not share the map location. The building may be renovated, but will more likely be torn down due to maintenance costs. During the 20 years or so that the land was frozen by the government, Mr. Hong did not pay taxes or management fees, which he still owes.
When I visited in 2019, the building looked abandoned, however my friend told me that he had also visited and noticed squatters living there. I only peered through the front door and was more interested in getting drone footage. I have not been back since then (two years ago), so I do not know what it is like now. Since the building has changed hands, I think it is finally time to share this post.
See our drone video of the castle above.
When I visited, I could just ride my scooter into the neighborhood and the guard did not stop me. I am not sure if that is the case now. I am sure the castle has become popular and they do not want people visiting now.
There are actually a lot of houses shaped like castles in Taiwan, and you'd be surprised how many of them are abandoned.
This place was such a unique feature on the skyline that I had to check it out.
Many of the windows on the castle were open or broken.
View at the front door.
Steps leading up to the entrance.
Cement work at the front entrance.
View of the front steps. Not a wheelchair friendly place at all.
From the front entrance, it seems the first floor is just used as storage, by someone.
More junk on the first floor. It seems the interior decorating of the place never actually happened. Maybe the property was frozen by the government before that could happen.
However in its current state, it seems the Taijimen could have easily sent someone to look after the place and at least make basic repairs, but that didn't happen.
View from the front porch. It's not a bad view.
Loose electric wire hanging from the front porch.
Another view from the front of the house.
Further down the mountain village you will find many other abandoned houses. I am not sure if they are owned by Taijimen too, but many of them probably are. These were supposed to be store fronts, but there are no stores here.
Many of the houses are being used as storage.
Last view of the empty castle.
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.