Eternal Golden Castle (Erkunshen Fortress)
Eternal Golden Castle (Yìzǎi Jīn Chéng 億載金城)
Not long before Taiwan was handed over to Japan, this fort was built to increase defense against the threat of invasion from those very same Japanese. The Qing leadership began building the fortress in 1874 and completed it in 1876. They hired a French architect named Bordeaux to construct a modern fort that could defend the city from a sea attack. A spot was chosen along the coast not too far from the defunct Fort Zeelandia. Famously, bricks were taken from the remains of Fort Zeelandia for use in fort’s construction.
This was the first modern-era fort built in Taiwan. Its three hectors consist of a square central field with large walls surrounding it. There are bastions at the four corners pushing out from the square design so that from above the fort looks like a square with a large “X” crossing through it. A moat surrounds the fort tracing its shape. The entrance is a large brick tunnel on the east side of the fort. At the tunnel entrance there was a wooden drawbridge that spanned the moat. The central field was a practice ground and contained a pond at one time. Under the fort was a kitchen, granary and ammunition depot. The fortress was equipped with British “Armstrong” cannons, making it the first fort in Taiwan with such modern artillery. Cannons were posted on each bastion and along the sea-facing wall. It had 5 eighty-ton, 4 forty-ton and 4 twenty-pound guns.
The fort saw just two minor military incidents in its time of use. The cannons were first fired to ward off a fleet of, ironically, the designer’s countrymen during the Sino-French War of 1884. The second time was a similar warning action against the Japanese in 1895, just before Taiwan was ceded to them.
When Japan took over Taiwan, the fort came into disuse. Its abandonment was punctuated during their war with Russia when the Japanese sold off some of the cannons to help fund the war in the north. Without the cannons the fort had no value for defensive purposes, and so it was left to nature.
The fort didn’t blossom as a tourist attraction and piece of cultural heritage until its centennial. In 1976, the government repaired the fort and called for a year of tourism. For the next several years, the area was developed for tourism and in 1983 the fort was named a national first-class historic site.
While the Eternal Golden Castle is probably the least interesting of the seven first-class historic sites in Tainan, it is still worth a visit if you have the time. The trees growing around the walls make for a very attractive stroll around the grounds. In fact, the fort feels very much like a park and you may even be tempted to bring a lunch and plop yourself down on a picnic blanket in the middle of the training ground. If you’re up for some activity, there are paddle boats for rent if you want to go around the moat. In the evenings the grounds are often used for musical events and performances. During the day, there are some people who dress up in period costumes and fire off the one working artillery gun that’s in the north-west corner.
Admission: Adult NT$50, Children NT$25
Phone: (06) 295-1504
Hours: 08:30 – 17:30 (not including any evening events)
Location: No. 3 Guangzhou Rd. (Guangjhou Road 光州路), Anping District, Tainan City