Skip to main content

Qing Dynasty Taiwan Provincial Administration Hall (臺灣布政使司衙門)

A few weeks ago on a Saturday I decided to go to Taipei Botanical Garden to take a walk and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Established during Japanese rule in 1921, the botanical garden is in itself a tourist attraction worth visiting. Located just a few minutes walk from Xiaonanmen MRT Station, the park has about 1,500 species of plants, and there are also animals such as frogs and squirrels. However, I didn't go there to enjoy the nature, but to see a building that I'd been wanting to visit for a long time.

It is a small, Chinese-style building, with a traditional curved tiled roof, white walls, and full of Chinese-style decorations. It is hard to believe that only a century ago, this structure stood in the middle of present-day downtown Taipei, on the location of today's Zhongshan Hall



On June 7, 1895, Japanese troops entered Taipei Walled City through North Gate. North Gate Street (北門街) led directly to the heart of Imperial Taipei: the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan Province (巡撫衙門, pinyin: Xúnfǔ Yámén), and the Taiwan Provincial Administration Hall (臺灣布政使司衙門; pinyin: Táiwān Bùzhèngshǐsī Yámén). These were, respectively, Taiwan's first and second most important administrative buildings, and in those days they were the largest government edifices of the island. The Administration Hall was a compound that contained several offices in charge of military affairs, finance, land taxes, census etc. 

During the short-lived Republic of Taiwan the office of the Governor-general and the Administration Hall served as the seat of the government of the first and only president of the Republic, Tang Jingsong

The old Taiwan Provincial Administration Hall, a compound comprising various separate office buildings

After 1895 the Japanese Governor-General used the Taiwan Provincial Administration Hall as his own office, before moving to the new Palace of the Governor-General which was completed in 1919. But it was not until 1928 (other sources say 1931 and 1932; see sources at the bottom of the page) that the whole compound of the Administration Hall began to be demolished to make space for the construction of present-day Zhongshan Hall, which was originally built in honour of the ascension to the throne of Japanese Emperor Hirohito. 

However, the Japanese decided to save at least one part of the Administration Hall, the so-called Choufangju (籌防局), built after the French invasion of Taiwan (1894-1895) for the administration of the island's military affairs. The Choufangju was dismantled and moved to the Botanical Garden, where it still stands today, a solitary and - literally - displaced witness to the complex and eventful history of Taipei. 







Additional sources: 

莊展鵬 (主編):臺北古城之旅。臺北 1997 (pp. 25, 94-95).

又吉盛清 (Matayoshi Seikyo): 台灣今昔之旅。臺北 1997.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Living in Taiwan: Seven Reasons Why It's Good to Be Here

Chinese New Year can be a pretty boring time for a foreigner. All of my friends were celebrating with their families, and since I have no family here, nor have I a girlfriend whose family I could join, I had nothing special to do. Shops and cafes were closed - apart from big chains like McDonald's or Starbucks, which were overcrowded anyway. So I had a lot of time to think.
On Saturday evening I went out to buy my dinner. While I was walking around, I heard the voices of the people inside their homes, the sounds of their New Year celebrations. Then I suddenly asked myself: "What on earth are you doing here? Why are you still in Taiwan?" 
Before I came to Taiwan, some Taiwanese friends of mine had recommended me their country, highly prasing it and going so far as to say that Taiwan is a "paradise for foreigners" (bear in mind that when I say foreigners I mean 'Westerners'). 
"It's easy for foreigners to find a job," they argued. "Taiwane…

How Conservative Is Taiwan? - 5 Cases of Sexuality in Business, Marketing and Media

Is Taiwan a conservative society? Are Taiwanese people prude, family-oriented, and faithful to their partner?
Before going to Taiwan, basing my opinion on what Taiwanese had told me, I would have answered all these questions with yes. But after living there for some time, I began questioning my assumptions. 
In many of my posts I have tried to explain some features of the Chinese/Taiwanese family which make it clear that every Western perspective on East Asia should take into consideration the different values and social structures that the Chinese-speaking world has developed over the centuries.
In this post, I would just like to mention a few interesting cases of liberal sexual conduct and the objectification of the female body, which challenge the image of Taiwan as a prude society. 
One day I was walking around the German city of Potsdam, near Berlin, with a Taiwanese. She often told me that Taiwanese people were conservative, Taiwanese girls naive and innocent. But on the other hand,…

How Is Customer Service In Taiwan? - My Thoughts Before And After Living In Taiwan

Before I went to Taiwan I had a lot of expectations regarding customer service there, mainly for two reasons.
First of all, I hated customer service in Europe. Having lived in Italy and Germany for several years and having spent time in Greece, the UK and other European countries, I noticed that across the continent a lot of shop assistants are indifferent or rude to customers. Of course, that is based on my experience and on that of my friends, and it refers only to episodes I witnessed or heard about. 
Let me tell you just a few examples. Once my internet provider in Germany changed my contract without my consent. When I went to their shop, I was yelled at and threatened with a lawsuit right away. Later I quit that company, but the point is, whether I made a mistake or not (and I think I did not), they should have cleared up the matter in a nice way instead of being so aggressive. 
One day I was in my university cafeteria, and I saw a student leave his trey with food on a table and go …