We travelled the efficient subway system of Taipei to the north, to the last stop. From here, we walked along the river, and were happy to find a bike path along the coast that provided for a pleasant walking experience through this town on the mouth of the Tamsui river. It was clearly low tide: we passed a small harbour in which boats were resting on a muddy ground. After a while, we turned a little inland, went a little higher, and directly found the entrance of our destination: the San Domingo fort. Walking a rather steep road took us to the red-painted, square Fort Antonio. Its neatly plastered walls belied its age: this is the fort built by the Dutch in the 17th century. We went inside, to find a small museum with displays and explanations about the history.
In 1629, the Spanish conquistadores built a wooden fort on this strategic location, overlooking the mouth of the Tamsui river and the Eastern China Sea. Locals attacked the fort not much later, after which the Spanish replaced it by a stone structure, but in 1642, the Dutch arrived and defeated the Spanish from a nearby settlement. The Spanish destroyed Fort San Domingo themselves; the Dutch decided to build a new fort on the same location in 1644, calling it Fort Antonio - the building we were now standing in. I was especially interested in copies of old Dutch maps, depicting the northern coast of Taiwan, with settlements and ships - the lively, colourful old maps are definitely a joy to look at.
A few decades later, the Chinese government took control of the fort, until the British took over in the second half of the 19th century, and painted it red as we see it today. Not all areas of the fort can be visited today, and it did not give the impression of a heavily defended structure. It was when we walked towards the other building on the premises that we saw a battery of old cannons lined up, pointing at Tamsui river, that we realized this was actually a military building once upon a time. The much newer building on the other side of the lawn is the former British consular residence building. Now a museum as well, it has been restored in the early 2000s using old photographs. Inside, you can easily feel the old British colonial atmosphere, it oozes from the furniture, the old kitchen, the coat of arms, and is underlined by information stands about the Victorian etiquette of the time. Once the location of a fort, once the location of armed struggles, the Fort San Domingo now is as peaceful as can be, offering an interesting step back in the rich history of Taiwan.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from San Domingo Fort (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to San Domingo Fort.
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