The last major activity during my week off was a tour of some of Tainan’s historical sites. Our first destination was the Anping Artillery Fort which was found as we were in the process of getting lost in Tainan.
The fort was built in 1840 during the First Opium War. It is the only surviving of four fortresses built by the Qing at Anping Port to defend Taiwan from British invasion. Anping was a small island off the coast of Taiwan, however, due to ocean currents the water between Anping and Taiwan gradually disappeared.
Anping is the earliest developed port in Taiwan’s history. It had gone through the rules of the Dutch, Koxinga of the Ming Dynasty, and the Qing Dynasty. After the Treaty of Tianjin was signed in 1858, several ports were opened along China’s and Taiwan’s coastlines. In Taiwan, the ports: Anping, Danshui, Keelung, and Takou were opened. At this time, the foreign firms of British Te-Chi (Tait & Co.), Yi-Chi, Ho-Chi, American Lai-Chi, and German Julius Mannich were the most well-known of the foreign firms. During the Japanese rule, as Anping was getting silted, trade in the area was greatly reduced and gradually disappeared.
The Anping Tree House was originally the warehouse of Tait & Co. During Japanese occupation, it was used as the office and warehouse of the Salt Association of Japan. The Taiwan Salt Company took control after Japan’s defeat in World War II.
An old salt warehouse by itself isn’t very spectacular, but the building since its abandonment has been invaded extensively by banyan tress whose roots and branches have created an amazing display by completely wrapping around the building:
In 1867, British merchants Tait & Co. established branches in Anping to handle tea exports, insurance, and banking. This along with the other foreign firms show Anping’s prosperous international trade status of the nineteenth century.
In 1624, the Dutch occupied today’s Anping and spent ten years building Fort Zeelandia. After 1662, because Koxinga and his son lived here, it went by the names: King Fort, Anping Fort, and Taiwan Fort. When the Japanese rebuilt it, they renamed it Anping Old Fort. The only Dutch remnants are the ruins of a semicircular bulwark and a section of the outer fort’s brick wall.
The Fort’s modern observation tower (thanks for the correction):
In 1874, the Japanese planned a military invasion of Taiwan under the pretext of the Mutan Village Incident. Sheng Bao Zhen, chief minister of the navy was ordered to come to the island to monitor defensive actions. On May 1, 1874, Sheng led a fleet eastward from Mawei. The Taiwan Strait was a dangerous and risky journey for any seafarer at the time. Believing his safe arrival was blessed by the Sea God, Sheng built this temple in 1875 to commemorate:
Construction of the Erkunshen Fortress (Eternal Golden Castle) began in 1874 by Shen Bao-Jhen to defend Anping against Japanese invasion. Shen hired a French architect to design the Western-style fortress that was completed in 1876. The fort’s cannons have been used twice against foreigners:
The first was during the Sino-French War of 1884 when a French fleet was carrying out armed provocation in Anping, the fort’s cannons were fired and the French fled the area.
The second was just before Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895 when the cannons were fired against Japanese battleships attempting to enter the area.
By the time we finished going through Erkunshen Fortress, it was getting late and we had to make the drive back to Nantou. I didn’t see all of Tainan’s historical sites, but I did see enough to keep me content for now.
Sources used for the background information regarding the sites came from Tainan City’s website, the English signage throughout the areas we toured, and the handful of brochures I left with.