Tamshui - A City with a Colorful Past
Fort of the Red-haired Barbarians home


Looking at Taiwan today it is easy to get the impression that the island's first encounter with the Western world came with the arrival of McDonald's barely over a decade ago. Although this is far from true, evidence of early Western involvement in Taiwan, which dates back to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1517, is hard to come by. A fortunate exception to this general rule is found in the fishing town of Tamshui (which means "freshwater"), 20 km northwest of Taipei. Here, remnants of earlier Western contact still stand perfectly preserved.
Remnants of the Past
Fort San Domingo, as redoubtable today as it was when built by the Spanish over 350 years ago in 1629, stands on a hill overlooking the mouth of the Tamshui River. One of the oldest buildings in Taiwan, this squat, box-like fort proved to be more resilient than its Spanish builders. In 1641 it fell to the Dutch, and in 1661 it fell again. At this time, revolutionary events on the mainland saw the arrival in Taiwan of 35,000 Ming dynasty troops who, fleeing the rebel Ching (Manchu) dynasty army, ousted the Dutch from Tamshui and the rest of Taiwan. It was also about this time that the fort came to be known as Hung Mao Cheng (Fort of the Red-haired Barbarians). The fort's history as a pawn between opposing powers remained in check until 1857, when it was leased to the British as their consulate in Taiwan. The elegant red-brick consul's residence adjoining the fort was added in 1891. A cool and stately piece of England forever marooned on a hillside overlooking a Taiwanese fishing village, it remained occupied by the British until 1972.
The fort and consul's residence are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except Mondays and the day after holidays. Admission is NT$20. To get there from the center of town, walk about 2 km along Chungcheng Street. Running parallel to the river, this is the oldest street in Tamshui.
Present Day Tamsui
Having visited Tamshui's past, you can turn your attention to its present. Tamshui today, although steadily being surrounded by a forest of high-rise apartment buildings, remains at heart a small, vibrant fishing town known for its university, its beach, its seafood, and its sunsets. Tamkang University and its sizable student body contribute significantly to the bustle of the town. The campus sits atop the hills behind Tamshui, and it is worth visiting for its Maritime Museum. The five-story ship-shaped building is unmistakable. It houses a library, engine models, a mock ship's bridge, and model ships from Columbus's Santa Maria to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Pretty dry stuff, maybe, but one model that should make an impression is that of Cheng Ho's treasure boat. The Chinese are better known for building walls than ships, and it may come as a surprise that from 1405 to 1433 they had a large maritime presence in the Indian Ocean, with Cheng Ho venturing as far as East Africa. More surprising still is the sophistication of the ship's design. The boats were huge fantastical spectacles, as long as Western ships of that day and at least twice as wide. Admission to the museum is free and it is open every day except Mondays and certain holidays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

觀音山 渡輪 側觀領事館 寺廟

Stunning Sunsets
Tamshui is small enough to see in a few hours, but most people who go there make sure they don't leave until after the sun has set. Half an hour before the event, people begin to gather along the river bank looking for the best spot to watch or photograph the fiery disc sink into the sea.

The current exchange rate is 1 US dollar to about 35 NT (New Taiwan currency), varying according to the market.

The tourist can visit some local antiquity and browse famous food of Tamshui. Especially, you cannot forget the famous seafood, such as Sea Watermelon Seeds, clam, fried crab …. as so on, these famous food are attractive to glutton. Shrimp rolls is another famous food in Tamshui, if you haven't tasted it, that mean you've never been to Tamshui.

Traffic (start from Academia Sinica)

Giving tourists a good opinion, which is taking MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit, subway)  to Tamshui. First take bus No. 212, 270 or Blue 25 to Kunyang Station (bus fare is NT$15). Then you can take MRT from Kunyang Station to Taipei Main Station and transfer Tamshui Line to Tamshui Station (MRT fare is NT$50).

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