Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fort Santo Domingo

Fuerte Santo Domingo or Fort San Domingo was originally a wooden fort built by the in 1629 at on the northwestern coast of Taiwan.

On a night in 1636, a group of local people, angered by the taxes that the Spanish governor had imposed, successfully attacked the fort and demolished it. In 1637, the Spanish rebuilt the fort using stone and raised the walls' height to twenty feet or more. In 1642, the expelled the Spaniards from nearby Keelung. The Spanish fort in Tamsui had by then already been razed by the Spanish themselves. The Dutch built a new fort on the site, called Fort Anthonio. In 1644, they replaced it by the structure still standing today, also called Fort Anthonio. The locals called the Dutch "the red-haired people", which led to the compound's Chinese name, Hong-Mao Cheng . From 1683 to 1867 the Qing Dynasty Chinese government controlled the fort and during this time built a stone wall with four gates around it, of which only one gate survives.

Following the opium wars in 1868 the took over the fort, made it their trade consulate, and painted it red . The linguist Herbert Allen Giles resided in the fort from 1885 to 1888 and completed some of his work on the Wade-Giles system of romanization of Standard Mandarin Chinese there. Next to the fort the British built their consular residence in 1891. The consulate closed during World War II and reopened after the end of the war. The British handed the site over to the Republic of China government in 1972 when they broke diplomatic relations with the ROC. The ROC government has classified the Fort a grade one listed historical site and it is now a museum with the interior recreated from photographs. It was reopened after refurbishment in 2005.

The Fort is adjacent to Aletheia University, which traces its origins back to 1872 when the Reverend Dr. George Leslie Mackay, a Canadian Presbyterian, established a mission and then a medical service and a school.

The fort is open to the public Tuesday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm, at an entrance cost of $60 NT$40 . Fort San Domingo is also about 15 minutes on foot from Huwei Fort and one can buy combination tickets that give admission to both forts.

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