Tainan, the ancient
capital of Taiwan, is situated on the southwestern coastal plains of
the island and enjoys a warm climate year-round. It is the
island's oldest and now fourth largest city, with a population in
excess of 700,000. The gentle-natured people of the city are
warmly hospitable, and the relatively tranquil life there seems far
removed from the hustle and bustle of modern urban life. With
its long history, Tainan is rich in historic sites and cultural
Tainan's year-round average temperature is 23 degrees C, the average is
about 25 degrees C in the spring and fall season, 28 degrees C in the summer and
17 degrees in the winter.
Nighttime in Tainan can be whatever you make it. If you like
tranquility, you can go to the Kuangfu campus of National Cheng Kung University
to stroll quietly and enjoy the gentle breezes, the aroma of flower blossoms,
and the chirping of myriad insects. If you like noise and bustle, you can
go to the night market near the Far Eastern Department Store on Chungcheng Road
and buy some gifts for friends and relatives. If these suggestions fail to fit
your fancy, then go for a quiet conversation over a cup of fine tea in one of
Tainan's unique tea houses.
Snacking in the City
Because of the culinary culture that has developed along with this ancient
city, a tour of Tainan not only brings brand-new mental experiences but offers
priceless opportunities to satisfy the palate as well. Among the many
Tainan snacks that are know far and wide are Coffin Cakes, bread in the shape of
a coffin which has been hollowed out and stuffed; nutritious Passing the Lean
Months Noodles, which were developed by the fishermen of former times to help
them get through the slack fishing periods; Pot-side Pancake Soup, made with
rice dough spread on the side of a hot wok and scraped off in pieces; Rice
Dumplings; Rice Pudding flavored with various sweet or savory ingredients; Eel
Noodles; Sweet Potato Pork Dumplings; Crystal Pork Dumplings; and Milkfish
Congee. These delicacies ca be savored wherever snack vendors congregate,
such as the Hsaiopei Night Market and the Chinatown marketplace.
Natural Ecology Area
The coastal areas of suburban Tainan provide excellent bird-watching
opportunities. Traveling northward along the New West Coast Highway, in
the neighborhood of Anping you can see such birds as seagulls, magpies, and
egrets. Along the route from Tainan to Lurhmen you can see more than 40
bird species, including pintail, herons, and egrets, roosting and feeding; among
the most impressive sights in this area is the "egret forest," with
its thousands of birds. Among the salt fields of from September to the
following May, the thousands of sharp-billed sandpipers and other migratory
birds that come to winter here. This is one of the most important stopping
points for birds migrating between Asian and Australia. From October to
the following April the area around the mouth of the Tsengwen River is a haven
for the famous and extremely rare-black-faced spoonbill as well as birds of the
recurvirostridae and egret families. There is also a large mangrove forest
at the mouth of the old salt canal that contains three of Taiwan's four types of
212 Mintzu Rd., Sec. 2
present towers were built on the foundation of Fort Provintia, which
was constructed by the Dutch in 1653 to serve as an administrative
center. The towers now house a small museum containing
artifacts from the Dutch days, and in front of them stand stone
tablets mounted on stone turtles. Beside the towers stands a
"broken-legged stone horse." The story is told how
during the night, in the old days, the horse was transformed into a
demon that harassed the people of the surrounding countryside until
they broke its legs as punishment.
God of War Temple
229 Yungfu Rd., Sec. 2
temple, along with the Confucius Temple, is known as one of the
oldest and best-preserved temples in Taiwan. Just when it was
originally built is not known, but according to legend it was during
the Ming dynasty's Yungli reign, in the mid-17th century.
During the Ching dynasty, this is where government officials offered
sacrifices to the god.
of War (Kuan Ti or Kuan Kung) worshiped here holds a heavy sword and
rides a swift horse. His mortal origin ws as a general of the
late Han dynasty (early 3rd century) who, because of his behavior,
became a symbol of uprightness and loyalty to later generations and
was finally deified. He is said to have been good a managing
finances and to have invented a method of accounting, and so is also
worshipped (by businessmen, especially) as the God of Commerce.
entrance to this temple has a particularly high threshold and for a
reason. In the old days, it is said, women were banned from
the temple and the high threshold was designed to keep them out.
Queen of Heaven Temple
Yungfu Rd., Lane 227
Tien Hou (Great Queen of Heaven) Temple was built in 1684 for the
worship of Taiwan's most popular deity; Matsu, Goddess of the
Sea. Matsu is the patron deity of fishermen, and her birthday
on the 23rd day of the third lunar month (either April or May) is
celebrated each year with frenetic explosions of colorful
activity. The goddess is usually flanked by two guardians,
Eyes that See a Thousand Miles and Ears that Hear on the Wind; these
are said to have once been malevolent spirits who were reformed by
Matsu's example and now use their powers to help her do good works.
secondary diet in this temple is the Old Man under the Moon, a sort
of matchmaker god worshipped especially by unmarried men and
women. The believe that all the need do is pray to the god for
a red "matrimonial thread" or apply their rouge before him
and they will quickly find a mate.
Chungyi Rd., Sec. 2
Commonly referred to as Lord of Heaven
(Tien Kung) Temple, the Altar of
Heaven (Tien Tan) is dedicated to the supreme Taoist deity, the Jade
Emperor. The Chinese people believe deeply in fatalism; so when they
encounter troubles in their lives, they might go to the Altar of Heaven to ask
the Jade Emperor for a change of destiny. This is accomplished by
transferring one's ill fortune to a straw doll and substituting good fortune for
it. The local people go to the temple on the first and 15th days of each
lunar month to worship the god and pray for the well-being of their families,
and solemn birthday celebrations are held for the Jade Emperor on the ninth day
of the first lunar month.
2 Nanmen Rd.
Established in 1665 as the first site for Confucian studies on the island,
this temple is known as the "First School in Taiwan." This large
and tranquil temple encompasses a total of 15 structures and was designed with
the school situated to the left and the temple to the right. Impressive
ceremonies to commemorate the birthday of Confucius are held in the courtyard in
the front of Tacheng Hall on Sept. 28 every year.
Great South Gate
Nanmen Rd., Lane 34
The Great South Gate is one of the few remaining of the original 14 gates of
the Tainan city wall. Built in 1736, it has an outer arched fate in the
shape of a half moon; named (naturally) Moon Gate, it is set at an angle to the
inner gate because of security considerations.
Located near the Great South Gate is the Forest of Tablets, a collection of
ancient stone tablets that were gathered from various places at the time of an
urban reconstruction project during the Japanese occupation.. These 61
different tablets, all of different sizes and ages, are of substantial
Lady Linshui Temple
1 Chienyeh St.
This temple is dedicated to a Lady
Linshui, Chen Ching-ku. Since there
are so many people who need the help of the goddess, she is accompanied by 36
assistants who are positioned in a side chamber. These are all the patron
saints of women, who come in large numbers to pray for sons or good
health. For women and children alike, the goddess is a source of spiritual
Women also come to this temple for a "belly change" which is
believed to change the sex of an unborn child. A Taoist priest performs a
ritual which, it is said, can give the child whatever sex the parents desire.
152 Kaishan Rd.
Cheng Cheng-kung, the pirate-warrior known to the West as
Koxinga, made great
contributions to the development of Taiwan and has been rewarded by a number of
shrines built in his honor. The building that houses this shrine was built
in 1662, and it is the only Fuchou-style temple in Taiwan. The temple
containes the Tainan Cultural Museum, which desplays a number of ancient
56 Chungshan Rd., Lane 79
This temple is dedicated to Chi
Niang-ma, the Seven Maids, who are viewed as
protectors of children; it is to this temple, therefore, that the young folk of
Tainan come for their coming-of-age ceremony at the age of 16. This
ceremony is still practiced, but not nearly as religiously as it was in the old
days when employers used 16 as the dividing age to determine whether employees
were paid as children or as adults.
Old Fort Anping
28 Kuosheng Rd.
The history of Taiwan's development began at the Anping district of
This is where the Dutch built their stronghold in the 1620's, naming it Fort
Zeelandia. Most of the old fort is gone now; the only bit left of the
original is a piece of red-brick wall, elegant banyan roots growing down its
sides. Visitors here like to climb to the top of the observation tower (of
recent vintage) to view the sunset and watch the fishing boats that dot the vast
surface of the Taiwan Straits. In the old days, this was known as one of
the "Eight Great Scenes of Taiwan."
16 Nanwen, Anping District
This fortress was built on the shore to help consolidate Tainan's sea
defenses. Constructed in the late 19th century near the end of the Ching
dynasty, this square structure with high walls and a moat was the first
Western-style fortress on the island. The Armstrong cannon that provide
the fortress's "firepower" today are replicas, manufactured in 1975,
of the English originals.
Anping Local Culture Hall
3 Hsiaochung St., Lane 52
This narrow and winding street, the oldest one on Tainan - therefore in all
Taiwan -- and commonly known as "Taiwan Street" is rebuilt now.
Nearby is a historic building named Haishan Hall, an interesting structure with
an even more interesting collection of implements and charms designed to expel
evil. The building today has been transformed into the Anping Local
Culture Hall and is open to visitors free of charge.