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:
I have been to Anping Fort and Old Street several times, but I only have a handfull of photos. Hopefully I can go back and take some more to spruce up this blog.
Anping Fort sits right next to Anping Kaitai Tianhou Temple (安平開臺天后宮, pictured in the background above) dedicated to Matzu. The front of the temple marks the beginning of Anping Old Street, which sells everything from hand crafted souvenirs to fried treats, fruits, Tainan's famed shrimp crackers, and almost any other Taiwanese food you can imagine.
The main delicacy of Anping, Shrimp crackers (蝦卷), are sold at multiple locations, made from shrimp meat and baked into a chip/pork rind like cracker. Another delicacy in Anping is the shrimp rolls (蝦卷) which are steamed and served in a wrap in soup or eaten steamed. Sadly I have no photos of either one.
The old street is only open during the day, so don't expect to see any stalls after 6:30 PM. Once you have gotten your fill at the old street, Anping Fort is naturally the next place to explore, because it sits right next to it. Also be aware that the Fort stops selling tickets at around 4:30 PM.
From the top of the tower on the fort, you can get a 360 degree view of Anping and old Tainan. and there are markings on the windows that tell you what each building is if you can read Chinese. Tainan has some of the most temples per capita in Taiwan, so you will be able to see them everywhere.
View looking south from the fort. Once upon a time all the this was open water, which has slowly silted in in the last 300 years.
You can also see old photos of Tainan and paintings of Fort Zeelandia which was once much bigger than what you see today.
View of Tainan looking north, to vast coastal wetlands, including Sicao Green Tunnel.
Qing Dynasty era cannons on display at the fort.
View of the second level of the fort and third level still under excavation below under the tin roofed shed. More rooms from the Dutch era were discovered after some digging on the site, and the Tainan City government may be moving to restore even more sections of the fort soon.
Above is a painting of Zeelandia in its prime. You can see that it was a full three stories with the first story sticking out (what is now grass next to the tin roofed structure pictured above).
The fort was never meant to fend off a major attack, just fend off local Aborigines and facilitate trade. The Dutch were not prepared for a full scale seige by Koxinga.
This is all that remains of the outer wall, part of which was dismantled to make Eternal Golden Castle during the Qing Dynasty. Now it is covered in mangrove tree roots.
Anping Tree House 安平樹屋
Another popular historical sight in Anping is the Anping Tree house. I do not have a lot of photos of it, so maybe one day I will make another blog for it if I go back.
The treehouse was a warehouse built during the Qing dynasty storing sugar and camphor after the Qing Dynasty opened the port to international trade in 1858. During the Japanese era, it was used to store salt, another important product from Tainan.
It was opened as a tourist attraction in 2004.
The admission price to see the house is 50 NT per person.
The house is completely covered in mangrove roots, making it look like the walls, roof, and floor are actually made from a living tree.
Tainan International Dragon Boat Races 臺南國際划龍舟比賽
Every year during the Dragon Boat Festival around June, Tainan hosts an international dragon boat race in Anping's canals. Racers come from all over the world, usually they are rowing teams from universities. If you are not sure when to go, Dragon Boat Festival is a great choice. But it can get really hot.
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