March 21, 2010

Anping Fort

Many historical sites in Tainan represent the 300 year history of Taiwan. Anping Fort (安平古堡) is one of them. It is also the oldest castle in Taiwan. It represents the time of Taiwan from the Dutch to Japanese occupations and until Taiwan’s retrocession. Although what you have seen now of the Anping Fort is the rebuilt of several times, which no longer has the magnificent look, it still preserves the rich history data and is a significant cultural resort.

Let me share with you a little bit history of the Fort through which you may also see the history of Taiwan.

Anping Fort was built in 1624 and completed in 1634 by Dutch. It was first named “Orlande City” and changed to “Fort Zeelandia”. After Zheng Chenggong drove out the Dutch, it was named as “Anping Town” as Zheng’s mansion. The “Taiwan City” was also named at that time. However, in order to build the dormitory for the customs during the Japanese occupation, Anping Fort was totally destroyed. A square ladder-style platform was built at the original location. In the center of the platform, a western-style house was built. This is what we see in Anping Fort now. “Anping Fort” was named after Taiwan’s retrocession.

This is definitely a well-maintained, quiet and relaxing site to visit. We often see school students on their field trip here to learn the history of Taiwan. The remaining wall of the castle and the materials of the walls definitely caught my attention!

Here is the original remaining Taiwan city wall (台灣城殘蹟) since 17th century. Once again you can also see the banyan aerial roots and trunks on the walls.

The height of the wall is about 10 meters and the wall was made by red bricks mixed with "sticky rice", "syrup" and "oyster shell ash"!

Not until the oyster farming experience that we had near Cigu, Tainan, I did not know the oyster shells ash can be made for the building material. Since Anping is the oyster production land, no wonder the remaining wall since 17th century Dutch time was mixed with oyster shell ash. The museum of “Anping Oyster Shell Cement Kilin” (安平蚵灰窯) nearby has also shown the history record.

The below photo shows the original oyster shell cement kilin in the museum which is also the only one left and well preserved. (“Anping Oyster Shell Cement Kilin” museum is located on the east side of Anping Fort. It is about 10 minutes walking distance from Anping Fort.)

It is very interesting to know that the bricks with darker color of the remaining wall of the Anping Fort were from Indonesia and those with light color shipped from Sia-men, Fujian, China. (Photo below)

The scissors-shape of concavity on the wall was used to lock the beam to avoid damages from earthquakes. The square cave was dug by the army in Ching's Dynasty to put posts while constructing their barracks.

Here are the Anping Fort Monument and the Artillery Fort.

The Zheng Chenggong’s statue reminds us how he defended Taiwan from the Dutch on the territorial seas.

The Remnants of the Taiwan city walls in Anping Fort with the devastated bullets mark showing the splendid military exploits have become the best evidence of the history!

Source- Anping Harbor National Historical Park Read More


Anonymous said...

Taiwan and Malaysia have similar history backgrounds!

The Portuguese came to Malaysia in 1511; then the Dutch in 1641; British in 1786; Japanese occupation in 1941; then back to British again from 1945 to 1957.

Those are the important dates Malaysian students ought to remember in history books. And history is a compulsory subject in schools...

I hated it a lot... There was a chapter, I think Chapter 2, all about about Islamic Civilisation... My little brain couldn't remember those Islamic terms.

Anonymous said...

You notice the ideologies at play? They have chosen to represent Cheng as a defender and the Dutch as an outsider when in fact it was the other way around. This plays into Chinese nationalist claims to Taiwan as being an "inseparable part of China." This is also evidenced in our choice of wording, "Japanese occupation", which is a term designed to delegitimize the Japanese colonial period as on of "occupation" i.e. illegal. Many historical sites in Taiwan have been cloaked in ideology to serve a unificationist agenda. I am not saying you are doing this, but be careful how you present history.

Scott said...

You have a great photo-blog! I especially like the photos of the herb/medicine vendors in WanHua.

A couple more historical details regarding AnPing which I think are interesting-- I have been told by native AnPing residents that 古堡街 (GuBaoJie, that runs beside the fort) is the oldest street in Taiwan. Also, that Zheng ChengGong named the village after his hometown of AnPing, on the mainland.

Islander said...

Nice blog on my home town of Tainan. I do want to point out what Anonymous said that Cheng did not defend Taiwan from the Dutch. It was the other way around.

Dutch East India Company established the first colony in Taiwan in 1624. They realized the land was fertile and Taiwan could be more than just a trading colony. It could be farmed. After failing to get the aborigines to farm and failing to get permission from the Dutch government to bring Dutch settlers, the Dutch colonists and brought in Chinese settlers from Fujian to farm the fertile lands.

In 1662, the Dutch was defeated by Cheng, a half-Chinese, half-Japanese pirate who was loyal to the Ming Dynasty that was under seige by the Manchurians to the North. In 1683, the Manchurians (Qing Dynasty) came to Taiwan and defeated Cheng's forces.

In other words. history shows that Taiwan was not part of China. Rather, it was occupied by a series of foreign powers: Dutch, Spanish, Chinese (Ming), Manchurian (Qing), Japanese, and Chinese (KMT).

micki and kristen said...

To Londoncaller- You are so good at remembering these numbers! You even remember the content in Chapter 2~~ It must prove that you ought to study very hard in schools :):)

To Anonymous and Islander- Thanks for sharing.

To Scott- We must have missed the 古堡街 that nears the Fort. It would have been interesting to visit the oldest street. Thanks for liking the photos!

Anonymous said...

Ha ha... That's totally the opposite.
I hated history so much; I can't forget those dates now!

My favourite subjects were Maths and English. ;-)

Zhu said...

I took a class in Taiwan history (and cross-strait relations) and it's really cool for me to finally see picture of the famous Anping Fort!

Zheng Chenggong was the pirate, right?

Taiwan history is fascinating. Who would have known that the small island (no offense!) would interest so many people at the time... the Dutch (!?), the Portuguese (if my memory serves right), the Japanese... wow!

I guess I was really surprised when I took this class to see the Dutch in Asia. They didn't stay in China, unlike the German, the French, the Spanish etc.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Another interesting feature of the older buildings in that neighborhood that you will notice if you walk the naroww alleys, is that the walls of many of the older houses are built mainly of football-sized chuncks of coral. And I supposed they are mortar-ed with the locally-produced oyster-shell cement. Often, the lower half or 2/3 of walls are made of coral chunks, and then the top portion is bricks.

I wonder if all of that coral was collected in that local area, or whether it accumulated at the port, brought in as ballast from faraway.

micki and kristen said...

To Londoncaller- Math was one of my favorite subjects in school as well!

To Zhu- Glad you finally see Anping Fort!
Taiwan indeed is a culturally diverse place which also makes it complicated for its identification. However, due to the diverse cultures, lots of heritages can be seen locally which makes Taiwan very attractive!
Regards Zheng Chenggong, you may see his bio from wikipedia :)

To Scott- Thanks for bringing up an interesting feature of the neighborhood. I was not aware of the coral walls until I found this info online- “The outer wall of the residences incorporate coral, as Anping was once next to the sea.”

We have seen lots of oyster shells wall decorations near Cigu area, and oyster shells ash in making cement in the museum, but not the coral chunks with a combination of the brick walls on the houses yet. Wow, very interesting! I guess I missed lots of details there. Thanks for sharing this interesting feature! :)

Anonymous said...

A lot of the brick was ballast. It is always interesting to imagine the harbor reaching up to Chih Kan Lou (Fort Provintia). I guess the harbor was only a few hundred feet away. The account of the Dutch statecraft in Taiwan is really fascinating. They completely changed intra and intertribal relationships for better or for worse.

Much of the European, Han and Trade with the Satsuma Shogunate created a severe trade imbalance between villages in and around the Tainan area. This let to severe strife between various Siraya speakers.

fufu said...

zheng cheng gong, i heard of his name when i was visiting a museum in Xiamen

floreta said...

beautiful! i would love to go to taiwan eventually.

Scott said...

Here's a few photos I have taken of the coral walls:

Coral walls in AnPing

in PengHu

micki and kristen said...

To Anonymous- It was also very interesting for us to see the original platform of the Fort’s was next to the ocean during the 17th century.

I was watching a TV program about a month ago which showed the Dutch representative in Taiwan found a related household object of theirs in the current tribal homes in Taiwan. This object has become a commonly use household item in the tribes until now.

To Fufu- Zheng chenggong was raised in Fujian. He is a well-known military person in the coastal area of both sides of Taiwan Strait.

To Floreta- Thanks! Welcome to visit Taiwan!~~

To Scott- Thanks so much for your photos. Now I remember I have seen the Coral walls in Penghu:)

This ancient house with coral wall in Anping area looks fascinating to me! If we put all these info together- Anping Fort was next to the sea which might have been the Coral came from during 17th century; therefor, this house shows in your photo might have been at least 200-300 years old. Very interesting and fascinating!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you like Gurnard's Head because I like it too. It was one of my best holidays in Cornwall.

Do people in Taiwan eat gurnard?
We don't usually see them in Malaysia.
I've only had it once here in England, it was kinda flaky but good.

shloke said...

Another wonderful write-up! My first Taiwan history lesson from Micky :)

Mixing red bricks with sticky rice, syrup and oyster shell ash??? So unbelievable! I've got to read 'Taiwan Oyster Land' for more details :)

Have you been to Malaysia? You'll LOVE The Historical State of Malacca!!! The historic and heritage buildings are fascinating! You may want to read this:


Rafael Lam said...

I only know Macau and Malaysia have fort like this,
I don't know Taiwan have this...
The Anping Fort is a nice place for visit! ^.^
That 10 meters wall look very nice now... know more Taiwan history from you!

micki and kristen said...

To Londoncaller- We have not seen 鲂鱼, but we are not sure… Ha! because both of us are not very good at telling different kinds of fishes…

To Mylo- I was amazed too about the cement was made with sticky rice, syrup, and oyster shell ash! Admire so much about ancient technique! They found their solutions within so limited resources.
I have never been to Malaysia. However, by reading your blog, I could feel I am half way there already! Malacca is the place that would definitely be visited when Malaysia’s trip takes place. It will be so interesting since Malacca has rich culture and heritage! Thanks for the link.

To Rafael-My parents visited Maccu about 3 years ago, and I saw their pictures with Fort. It seems like a very nice place to visit!

Anonymous said...

Ha ha... It's funny people in Britain don't seem to enjoy seafood a lot despite the whole country is surrounded by the sea, and there's an abundance supply of seafood. The only fish they like is cod, for obvious reason, the most popular choice for fish and chips.

Anonymous said...

RE: Did Gilbert & George go to Cracow? / 吉尔伯特与乔治双去了克拉科夫吗? / Gilbert & George ada pergi ke Krakow tak? / ギルバート&ジョージはクラクフへ行ったの?

Exactly. But I think China is slightly better because they have classical gardens. Ha ha... Mind you, European gardens are also quite beautiful.
Ha ha... So I guess we have to visit both of them.

Do you have classical gardens in Taiwan that are as famous as those in Suzhou?

micki and kristen said...

To Londoncaller- "Lin Family Gardens"/林本源邸 is the most completely Chinese garden in Taiwan.
You can see the history and 2 pictures of this garden from the above link~~

lechua said...

reminds me a little of the state of malacca in malaysia... the dutch occupation and the fort built during that time. interesting highlight on the scissor-shaped brick wall...

micki and kristen said...

To Lechua- I think the technique of having the scissor shape bricks was quite brillant too :)

dennis said...

actually Cheng did not defend taiwan from the dutch, nor was it the other way around. taiwan was colonised by the dutch then cheng then the japanese. these people simply took control of taiwan from its true owners - the taiwanese. but we've all been taught by primary school text books (written by the KMT) that cheng drove out the dutch (the invaders) when historical fact says that both cheng and the dutch were both invaders of taiwan at different times. pretty sad that a lot of taiwanese still don't know the true history of their country, i too only learned of the facts when im old enough to find the answers for myself.

micki and kristen said...

To Dennis- Thanks for sharing of your finding.

Anonymous said...

nice information

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