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 (or 150 NT for four historical sites in Tainan).
Anping Fort: Every day 8:30 AM to 5:00 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 several times, and every time I have discovered more about the history there. It is probably the most popular tourist site in Tainan, and I highly recommend going.
Check out our drone footage of the fort above.
If you don't want to waste data, you can also check out our 360 spherical panorama of the area above.
A Map of the complex in Chinese.
More info and a timeline of the fort's history in Chinese.
On the very outskirts of the fort across the street in a park, you can find the oldest outer walls of Fort Zeelandia. It sits right next to some modern houses.
View of the other side of the outer wall.
"Encounter of the East and West Civilizations"
"Taiwanese history was initiated from Tainan, and Anping was the earliest district in Tainan. In 1624, the Dutch arrived at Formosa, established a fortress on the island on the west side of the Taijiang Inland Sea for commerce in East Asia and later became the administration center for the Dutch ruling Formosa. The first Governor become the administration center for the Ditch ruling Formosa. The first Government beamed Marten Sonk. It began the encounter of Taiwan with the Western civilization.
Initially, it was named "Fort Oran je" and in 1627, changed to "Fort Zeelandia." The fort was finished in 1634, comprising a square inner fort and rectangular outer fort, with protruding bastion on each corner to extend the defense area. The bricks were imported from Batavia (today's Jakarta, Indonesia) and oyster shell ash, mixed with glutinous rice, sugarcane juice, and clay, was used as mortar.
Due to several times of demolition, the surviving on the ground is including seven sections of the former wall and a semi-circular bulwark, as well as two unearthed relics.
Originally, the outer west wall faced Taiwan Strait., was the front of the coastal defense for Fort Zeelandia, it;s a significant military post. Nowadays, the west wall has been hidden in the residence; the Tainan City Government based on the archives to find out the position of the west wall to present a historic testimony."
If you come during the afternoon, you will for sure notice that you have to pass through Anping Old Street to get the Anping Fort.
You can pay 50 NT to get in, or pay 150 NT to see another four (out of five) historical sites in Tainan.
View of the fort from near the old street. Only a fountain and small wall stand in the way.
Near the entrance are bathrooms and a small museum. Above you can see a map of what was once the old Dutch settlement. Since then the land around Tainan has silted in.
Painting of the old Fort Zeelandia.
The main entrance to the fort.
Near the side of the entrance is another large outer wall that remains, part of it is destroyed, used as building materials by Chinese settlers after the Dutch left the area.
Another view of the outer wall.
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.
The mortar between the brick was made of sea shell ash and glutinous rice.
You can see some metal braces in the wall that were made by the Dutch.
Gate of Xie-Die in the wall made my Koxinga.
"Gate of Xie-Die"
"On February 1, 1662, after Konxinga signed the peace treaty with the Dutch, he was stationed at Fort Zeelandia. In memory of his hometown, he renamed the place Anping Town to show that he had not forgotten his native land. Also, for the convenience of the people entering and leaving th fort form the south, he built a gate at the southern outer wall, and named it the "Gate of Xie-Die" after the gate name of Zheng State in the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. This was because dukes Zheng Zhuang Wang and Wu Wang recuruited talents and trained troops to strengthen their defense and fight against other dukes; though theirs was a small country, they portrayed the capabilities of a big kingdom. with this as a an analogy, Koxinga described Taiwan as a small places with great ambitions."
Another view of the rotting wall.
The main steps leading up to the top of the fort.
Statue of Koxinga.
Another map of the fort.
Stone tablet that says "安平古堡 (Anping Old Fort)"
"There are three layers to the structure of Fort Zeelandia. The bottom layer, a subterranean storage facility over three meters deep, was built from bricks laid with a mixture of sugar syrup and oyster shell lime, a refined craftsmanship in those days. There are two layers above ground, the total height of the corner walls is over nine meters, and the walls of the corner bastions (where most cannons were placed) have a breadth of 1.8 meters. The walls of the upper layer have a breadth of 1.2 meters with 90cm tall. The side where Fort Zeelandia was built was not really ideal for putting up a fortification. The decision for the locations was largely due to the fact that the local aborigines and the Chinese posed no threat to the Dutch whose primary concern was protecting their trade opportunities."
The main steps leading to the top of the fort.
View looking from the top of the fort.
Another view from the top of the fort. The sign says "軍裝局 (Military Bureau Equipment Site)."
"Military Equipment Bureau Site"
"British Gunboats shelled Anping in 1868, because camphor smuggled by the British was seized. The Military Equipment Bureau was destroyed and the deputy head of the navy, Jiang Guo-Zhen, committed suicide. In 1873, the deputy head of the navy, Yang Jia-nan, rebuilt the bureau and erected a stele in memory of the incident. In 1930, when the Japanese celebrated the tercentenary of Taiwan's cultural commemoration, this stele was moved to the side of the newly built western Mansion."
On top of the fort is a small museum, which was originally a western style mansion built by the Japanese.
Another statue of Koxinga (鄭成功 Zheng Chenggong)
What I assume is an era cannon. Notice that it is cracked down the middle.
Another Qing era canon.
The canon has the year it was made marked on it (吉嘉年四十八年五月- sometime in the Dynasty).
Historical photos on display inside the western mansion museum.
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.
More historical paintings and photos.
"Major Events of Fort Zeelandia"
"1602 - VOC (Vereenigde Osst-Indsche Compagnie) was established.
1604 - Shen Yourong persuaded the Dutch troops to withdraw. The admiral, Wybrand van Waerwijck, commanded the force and left Penghu.
1619 - The Dutch established the Governor-General Office in Batavia, Java.
1623 - The Governor-general chief, Corneilies Reijersz led 50 staffs to Tayuan and started to construct a humble fortess of bamboo, wood, and sand in Kun-shen island in order to defend attacks from Taiwanese natives.
1624 - Martinous Sonck from Batavia was designated to replace Commander Cornelis Reyersena and arrived Penghu on the 3rd of August.
1624 - Martinus Sonck led troops bounding for Tayuan on the 29th of August and landed the next day,. They started to build Orange City and commercial centers in Beixianwei.
1624 - Koxinga was born in Hakui, Hirado city of Japan.
1625 - Sonck exchanged Chihkan lands with fifteen bolts of Indian prints from Sinckang community to build Fort Provintia and fortress.
1625 - Sonck renamed Orange City to Fort Provintia and drowned. Gerard Frederiksz de With succeeded to be the second officer in Tayuan.
1626 - A lot of the Dutch in Fort Provincia suffered from malaria so Chinese moved out in droves. Officer Wtih decided to demolish fort Provincia and move commercial center back to Beixianwei.
1627 - In 1626 Captain Hamada Yahioe of Japanese Red-seal ships (Shuisen) led fleets to Taiwan. They had disputes with the Dutch and remained in Taiwan unwillingly. VOC renamed Orange City to "Fort Zeelandia."
1627 - Peter Nuyts was designated by Batavia to succeed the third officer in Tayuan.
1628 - Hamada Yahioe coerced officer Pieter Nuyts and drew up agreement to exchange hostages. After Hamada Yahioe returned to Japan, Japan shut down the Dutch commercial cneter in Hirado.
1632 - Pieter Nuyts was extradited to Japan to apologize for the Hamada Yahioe incident. For Zeelandia was finished by the end of this year.
1634 - Outer city of Fort Zeelandia was almost finished.
1635 - Redoubt Utrecht was built by the Dutch.
1639 - Redoubt Utrecht was finished."
"1640 - outer city of Fort Zeelandia was finished.
1655 - Fort Provintia was finished.
1656 - Seafport on Beixianwei was finished.
1657 - The Dutch sent Pincqua to negotiate with Koxinga in July.
1658 - Koxinga started to attack northwards.
1659 - The Dutch dismissed the translator and taxation positions of Pincqua. Pincqua serviced for Koxinga after that and persuaded Koxinga to capture Taiwan.
1659 - After failure in Nanjing, Koxinga withdrew into Kinmen and Xiamen.
1661 - Koxinga commanded troops to Penghu directly then attacked Taiwan by land from Luerhmen. Before long, the general in Fort Provintia Surrendered.
1661 - Koxinga renamed Chihkan to Chentein Fu and set up Tian-yu and Wan-nian counties. Renamed Tayuan to "Anping Zheng." He commanded troops to open up uncivilized lands.
1661 - On the 1st of February Zheng and the Dutch conculded a treaty, then the Dutch withdrew from Taiwan o the 17th of Fbruary. The Dutch colonized Tayuan for 38 years. Since Koxinga moved in Fort Provincia so it was addressed "Fortress of the King."
1662 - Koxinga died at the age of 39.
1663 - Zheg Jing led important inferiors back to Xiamen. The Dutch allied with Qing governer to attack Zheng.
1664 - Zheng jing got out of Kinmen and Xiamen and withdrew to Taiwan. He renamed Dongdu to Dongning and reformed Tiansing County and Wannian county to state.
1675 - Formosa Under Dutch was completed.
1683 - The fleets commanded by Shi Lang arrived in Penghu and defeated the navy of Zheng utterly. Zheng Kesuang surrendered to the Qing Dynasty.
1684 - The Qing Dynasty subsumed Taiwan and set up one fu and trhee counties under Fujian province. Deployed navy bureau inside Fort Zeelandia.
1720 - Zhu Yigui anti-Manchu uprising took place. After quelling it Qing Dynasty renamed Anping town to Xiaozhong Li.
1748 - Xiezhen officer, Chen Ting Yao built two houses inside south gate of Fort Zeelandia outer City and allotted defense force.
1752 Anping navy deployment moved out from foreterss and reformed to military bureau. Set new deployments on southern side of the fortress (Anping Tian Hou Temple Present Day).
1868 - English ships bombarded Anping destroying the military bureau.
1874 - Mudan incident broke out and Fort Zeelandia was artificially destroyed.
1878 - Telegram wiring from Cijin to Anping was finished.
1894 - The Sino- Japanese War broke out.
1895 - Treaty of Maguan was signed, ceding Taiwan and Penghu to Japan.
1897 - Part of the city of Zeelandia was reconstructed to built dormitories.
1898 - The inner part of Fort Zeelandia was rebuilt into a three story structure and customs house.
1909 - Anping lighthouse was built.
1930 - Western style mansion was built on Fort Zeelandia.
1932 - The customs house was changed into a historic center.
....for the rest you will have to go visit the site for yourself.
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).
This is what the original tower looked like. The current tower was built in 1975.
What I assume is a cute tradition by middle school students, to leave a note on a lock.
Looking down the stairwell from the top of the tower.
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.
View of Tainan looking north, to vast coastal wetlands, including Sicao Green Tunnel.
You can also see old photos of Tainan and paintings of Fort Zeelandia which was once much bigger than what you see today.
Near the tower on the third level there are more canons.
"Anping Coastal Cannons"
"When Taiwan came under Qing Dynasty rule in 1684, there were three naval camps charged with defending Taiwan. The center, right, and left camps. All garrisoned in Anping. In 1733, Governer Hao Yu-lin was granted approval to built a warehouse in Anping. Thirty thousand piculs of grain were stored and guarded here for the soldier' rations. The beginning of the Military Equipment Bureau. In 1788, the left camp was relocated to Luzaikang where they used various types of coastal canons, including 2400, 2000, 1500, 1000, 800, 600,500, and 400 catty cannons. This series of cannons was made in 1814 by the naval defense of Taiwan."
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.
Another view looking to the right.
View from the top of the steps.
Another canon near the old mansion.
More canons on the second level.
Canons in a row on the second level.
View of the tower and a canon.
Looking down at the old well.
Steps on the far side of the fort.
Explanation of the archaeological sonar techniques used at the site.
An old archaeological pit that has been filled in. They found part of the wall here.
Old part of the all sticking out.
another view of the old wall.
"Semi-circular inner Fort Wall and Ancient Well"
"Of the entire original Fort Zeelandia built by the Dutch, only some remnants of layered bricks remain to be seen. Historical records describe the fort as 838m wide and more than 10.9m high. There were two levels; the upper level had lookouts, passageways, and compounds. The lower level had four circular bastions and seawater wells in the north and south to repel fire attacks."
Excavation site showing the old fort.
Test pit 2, which shows five levels of history.
Another view of the pit.
Part of the old wall as seen inside the pit.
Pottery and waste ditch found in test pit five.
History of the fort written in Chinese.
A mural of Koxinga fighting against the Qing.
Another mural of Koxinga fighting the Qing.
View of Anping Fort from the air.
Another view looking southwest. 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.
Another view to the west.
Anping Old Street 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.
Thanks for reading and be sure to stay tuned for more of our blogs on Tainan to come!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working 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.