When visiting Hong Kong, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that this modern, developed city is lacking in cultural sights, and that the only landmarks you’ll see will be modern ones. That couldn’t be further away from the truth, Hong Kong is a place with an exceedingly rich history, a history which can still be seen today if you know where to look.
The historic culture of Hong Kong and its development can be split neatly into two distinct eras, as can the landmarks and sights that remember them. The first of these two eras is ancient China and the royalty and the richness that came with that. The second is of course colonial times. These will be the more recognised backdrops to your trip to Hong Kong and are often the most unexpected and quirky.
Kat Hing Wai Walled Village
Definitely fitting into the former category is this 500 year old walled village. This completely rectangular village is set out a little bit like a medieval castle. As well as the tall wall, it is also surrounded by a purpose built moat.
The village was originally built in this way to discourage attacks from rival clans, bandits and pirates. It was also probably pretty good protection against tigers who would have lived in the area at that time. In 1899 the villagers resisted the takeover of the British from behind these walls.
Today, the village is still inhabited.
Tai Fu Tai Mansion
Another relic from Chinese times and one which show how the top of society lived. Built in 1865, it was home to a scholar who lived in the favour of the Qing Emperor.
The mansion is one of the most beautiful and best preserved of its kind with its plaster mouldings and ostentatious Chinese wooden carvings on the inside.
The 44 metre tall Clock Tower was completed in 1915 and was originally the point of the terminus of the Kowloon to Canton Railway. The train station is no longer there, but the tower has been preserved as a monument of colonial times and as a poignant reminder of the age of steam.
The Clock Tower has significant memories for many Chinese who would have seen it upon their arrival into Hong Kong, or before their departure to other parts of the world.
This is considered an architectural gem from colonial times. This was the residence of the British Governor of Hong Kong, up until the handover in 1997. In total it was home to 25 British Governors.
This building is also a throw back to times when not every building in Hong Kong was built with the intention of touching the sky. Despite that it does enjoy majestic harbour views.
From 2005 the building has reverted back to a very similar role. It is now the residence of the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
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