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 Traditional Houses and Western-style

With a long history, Kinman used to be called as Wuzhou, Wudao, or Xienzhou. According to history, the earliest development of the island can be traced back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty, 317A.D. After 1600 years, it has undergone ups and downs, wars and prosperity—it has been a place of refuge for people during political turmoil, a military base, a home for the overseas Chinese from Malaysia and Indonesia, the battlefield front line, and it has seen the establishment of Kimen National Park. During the past decades, due to the application of Martial Law, its development was suspended. During the four decades after 1949, it saw hardly any development. Therefore, it has become a place where southern Fujian culture was preserved. Specifically, the “space,” “culture,” and “society” of the settlements interact in a traditional and intimate manner, manifesting special charm.

The long history and elegant southern Fujian style of architecture on the island interacts with the folklore and festivals in this special geographic time and space. Its legacy enriches every inch of the land in Kinmen. Wandering among the streets and alleys, we can see the traces of time to discover the aesthetics unique to Kinmen. Moreover, we can feel the invisible legacy of culture. All the exciting history of humanity is in Kinmen National Park, inviting you to come and explore.

Old house

The Beauty of the Historic Monuments

There are many historic monuments in Kinman — 44 in total, 12 of which are located in Kinmen National Park. These monuments are diverse in styles, including mansions, temples, ancestral temples, stone tablets, memorial arches, tombs, and lighthouses. Building such as Tsai Family Ancestral Shrine, Cyonglin, Wentai Pagoda, Tomb of Ciou Liang-Gong, Petroglyph of Hanyingyungen, Gulongtou Zhenwei Arch, Three Windows Chastity Arch, Haiyin Temple, Shimen Gate, Huang Family Youtang Garden, Shueitou, Xu-Jiang-Xiao-Wo Inscribed Rocks, and Tomb of Tsai Pan-Lung are listed as National Historic Monument. Meanwhile, Gulongtou Shueiwei Tower and Tomb of Wun Ying-Jyu are regarded as County Historic Monument. Below is an introduction.

【National Historic Monuments】

Wentai Pagoda
Located on Nanpan Mountain, Jincheng Township, Wentai Pagada was built in 1387. It is a five storey hexagonal tower built with granite. According to historic documents, during the Ming Dynasty, the Court built this to prevent the invasion of Japanese pirates. Chou Te-Hsing, the Lord of Jiangxia was responsible for the naval defense along the coast of Fujian. He built this “Kinmen Fort” and set up five Coastal Guard Offices at Kinmen. At the same time, he also built three stone towers as markings for navigation. These three towers were the “Daoying Tower” on Taiwu Mountain, the “Maoshan Tower” at Shueitou Village, and “Wentai Pagoda” on Nanpan Mountain.

Huang Family Youtang Garden, Shuitou

Huang Family Youtang Garden, Shuitou, is a villa with gardens and ponds. The mansion was built by the mountains and lakes, adding much to its beauty. Youtang is the villa built in the Qing Dynasty,1765, by Mr. Huang Chen, a sea transport tycoon that owned huge 18-mast ships. According to legend, after Hung’s wife Ms. Tsai deceased, he felt the mutability and toil of life. Therefore, he built a mansion for his retirement and to encourage his offspring to study there. He named the mansion Youtang with the expectation of his offspring to excel and become learned people.

Youtang is the only southern China style mansion in Kinmen that has zigzag bridges, ponds, pavilions, and towers. In front of Youtang, there is Sun Moon Lake, on the top of which there is a slanting stone bridge, separating the oval shaped lake into the Sun Lake and Moon Lake.


Haiyin Temple and Shimen Gate

Originally named Taiwuyan Temple, Haiyin Temple is located on the valley of two peaks in Taiwu Mountain. On Taiwu Mountain, there are many eroded rocks, which look like name chops, lying on the mountains; therefore people called it Haiyin (chop of the sea). Naturally, people call the temple built on it Haiyin Temple. The temple was built in the Song Dynasty around 1265-1274, was refurbished in the Ming Dynasty. It was heavily damaged in the 823 Artillery War. After the war, it was rebuilt into the structure we see now. Originally, it mainly worshipped the Tongyuan Immortal. Later, it worshipped Guanyin Bodhisattva. On the 9th day of the first lunar month, it is the “Heavenly Lord’s Birthday.” Many worshippers climb up the hill to pay tribute to the deity. Together with the Ceremony of the Moving of the Chenghuang Temple, they are regarded as two major events in Kinmen.

【County Historic Monuments】

Gulongtau Shueiwei Tower

Located south of Guning Elementary School at Jinning Township, Gulongtou Shueiwei Tower was built in the Qing Dynasty,1767. It is a square-shaped tower built of granite.

In the early days, there was a bay in Gulongtou. During the tide, seawater would flow into the Shuangli (Twin-Carp) Lake, and flood the coastal area along the North Hill. If the tide was huge, the seawater would overflow and flood the entire field. During 1750s, the elders investigated the conditions of the mountain and river. They discovered that there were great differences between the ebb and tide. Its significant change of sea-level influenced the development of the village. Therefore, they built a tower at the seafront at “Xiadian” (North Mountain) in accordance with the words of a Feng Shui Master. This tower worked for two purposes: bringing prosperity to the village and expelling sea demons. Then, the villagers hoped to enjoy peace and prosperity after building it. The location of the tower is right on the edge of the tide; therefore, it was called Shueiwei (edge of the water) Tower.


Traditional Settlements

There are seven settlements that are preserved intact in Kinmen National Park. In addition to the diverse styles of architecture, such as southern Fujian buildings, Western style buildings, and historic monuments, the cultures of everyday life, such as traditional spatial configuration, patriarchal system, ethnic ceremonies, and feng shui, are preserved in good conditions.

Shanhou Settlement

Located at the northwest part of the island, Shanhou consists of three forts—the upper fort, middle fort, and lower fort. The famous “Kinmen Folk Culture Village” is situated in the middle fort. At the end of the Song Dynasty and early Yuan Dynasty, the upper fort was the property of the Wang family; the lower fort, the Liang family. Regarding the middle fort, it was established by Wang Kuo-chen, Wang Ching-Hsiang and Wang Ching-Chi, who made a fortune by trading in Kobe, Japan, in the Late Qing Dynasty. In this village, there are 18 mansions, 16 are duplexes. The remaining 2 are the Haizhu College (village school) and Wang family ancestral shrine. Overall, these buildings are called the 18 Chambers at Shanhou. 
The middle fort was built with a careful plan. Commencing in 1876, it was completed in 1900. The architectural period lasted for 25 years. The owners invited an architect from China to design the whole village. As a result, the geographical location, purpose, spatial configurations in the chambers, the yards, attics and the carved decorations were all carefully planned. Viewing these houses through the alleys, we can see the swallowtails of the roofs are symmetrical, neat and harmonious. Moreover, the traditional Chinese doors of these houses were built of granite, making it a special scene in the village. In short, this village is an existing example of southern Fujian architecture.

Zhushan Settlement

Located in southwestern Kinmen, it was called “Shanzidou” in the past, meaning the village was protected by the mountain. As the whole village was situated on the floor of the valley, it was a place where water gathered. Therefore, there were seven ponds of different sizes in the village, bring endless water supply to the villagers. In addition, there were streams and brooks coming from four sides. People considered it a place of good feng shui – “Seven star ponds and four waters flowing.” According to feng shui, water meant wealth. With plenty of water, it is a place of good fortune.

Situated on the “Dingsanluo” in Da She of the clan, the biggest house there was built around 1750s. About 100 years ago, many people of the Hsueh family went to the Malay Islands to seek their fortune. In addition to promoting economic prosperity, they also built impressive architecture. The southern Fujian style and Western style houses built with the funds of these successful merchants have become valuable humanistic assets. The “Teacher’s Quarters” was built under such conditions. Other traditional architecture, such as the General’s Mansion, Up-house Studio, Dingsanluo, and Xiasanluo are unique and high recommended for you to visit.

Ou’s Settlement

Located in southwest Kinmen, the settlement was built with Jintang Mountain in the north, Shanjiding in the west, Qianshi hills in the south, and Liaoluo Bay in the east. Surrounded by mountains on three sides and the sea at one side, it was called as “Lion’s head and dragon’s tail den” in geographical location. Warm in winter and cool in summer, it is a highly inhabitable place.

Ou’s mansion was began n the Ming Dynasty. However, it major structure was built after the declaration of the seclusion policy by the Qing Court. Due to the embargo, people returned to Kinmen and settled there. With four hundred years of history, most of the houses of the Ou’s settlement were built around 1830s. With Feng Shui Pond as the boundary, the settlement is divided into the upper clan and lower clan.
Shuitou Settlement
Shuitou settlement is located in southwest Kinmen. On the right of the settlement, runs the Jinshui River. Therefore people also called it “Jin Shui” (Jin River). Three sides of the settlement are surrounded by the sea. In the south, it faces the Jinlei Water Channel running between Huge Kinmen and Small Kinmen. This place has been a strategic point since ancient times. Surrounded by mountains at three sides, this settlement is facing the sea, constituting an excellent geographical location.

What is valuable in Shuitou is that architecture of different styles and features at different eras. During late 1760s, the Huang Family at Shuitou was operating the business of dried preserved food and silk at the south of the Yangtze River (Hangzhou and Jinzhou). After making their fortune, they raised the funds to build 9 duplexes, nicknamed “18 pillars”. The two rows of houses, neat and symmetric, are located in front section of the settlement. Lying on the slope of Dingjie, these houses are typical southern Fujian architecture built with stone walls with protruding roof ridges. Now they are the earliest settlement that still survives in Kinmen today. Likewise, it has high cultural value.

North Hill and South Hill

With Shuangli (Twin-Carp) Lake lying in the middle, North Hill and South Hill stand opposite to each other. Together with Lin Cuo, it is called as “Guningtou.” Located at the northwest of the island, most of the inhabitants in this settlement are the members of the Li family.

Most of the architecture in North Hill and South Hill are facing east with the west in back. The North Hill is located on a gentle slope, facing the mountains and backed up against the water (Shuangli Lake). To the south of it, the buildings are mainly facing the southwest with the Shuangli Lake by the side. Therefore, the two villages are said to have “Shuangli (Twin-Carp) feng shui.”

Cyonglin Settlement

Cyonglin Settlement is located in the middle of Kinmen, on the west slope of Taiwu Mountain. With a good strategic value, during wartime it was regarded as an important strategic point. In the village, all the houses are connected by underground tunnels; therefore, some people called it “Combat Village.”

In Qionglin, many traditional southern Fujian style architecture, with swallowtail and horseback roofs, are preserved. Simple and rustic, they have their own persona. Most of the houses are built with local materials in accordance with local geographical locations. Therefore, most are built with granite excavate from Kinmen. Some of the house clusters are even equipped with defensive gates, with wells and vegetable fields inside the gate. In times of war, it offered a complete defense system of the inhabitants.

Qionglin is a beautiful place with historic monuments, war history, traditional architecture, ancestral temples, and wind lions, rich in humanistic assets.
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