In search of old Taipei: Dadaocheng

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments


Top left: Dadaocheng wharf; top right: Xiahai City God Temple; Main & bottom: traditional shops and food stalls


After visiting the Lin Liu-hsin Puppet Theatre Museum, I decided to explore the flavourful and historical Dadaocheng district. Walking towards the museum, I couldn't help but notice the beautiful colonial architecture that are rare to find elsewhere in Taipei.

The area was once an important trading port in the 19th century, especially for tea. But over time, the area lost its appeal and many historical buildings have been deserted. In recent years, the city's government started to preserve and revamp the area again, reviving this once prosperous area.

Dihua Street was where all the commerce took place back then, and even today there are still many traditional dried food stores. I was later told by a kind sales lady ( who spent about 20 minutes explaining the area's history to me) that the area is especially crowded before and during Chinese New Year because of shoppers doing their festive shopping here.



Top left: Chen Tian-lai Residence; second row right: Lee Chun-sheng Memorial Church; third row left: Fa-chu-kung Temple; third row middle: A.S. Watson & Co. Building


For architecture lovers, there are many interesting sights here ( some can only be viewed from the streets) including:

Lee Chun-sheng Memorial Church - a church built in the memory of the famous Dadaocheng tea merchant and ardent philanthropist Lee Chun-sheng, and has a facade that resembles a face!

Chen Tian-lai Residence - a grand three-story Baroque style former residence built in 1920 that belonged to a well-known tea merchant.

Koo’s Salt House - a late-Renaissance style residence built in 1910 by Koo Hsien-jung, the father of Koo Chen-fu, former chairman of Straits Exchange Foundation.

A.S. Watson & Co. Building - a prominent colonial building on Dihua street built in 1917. It was the first western medicine pharmacy in Taiwan, ( now it is known as Watson's, the world's largest health and beauty retail group based in Hong Kong) but the building underwent 12 years' of restoration because of a fire that destroyed the original structure.

Xiahai City God Temple ( with web link) - a small but historical and famous temple built in 1859. It is especially popular with singles seeking love...

Fa-chu-kung Temple - a rather strange looking temple was originally built by a tea merchant in 1878 and was rebuilt in 1996 designed by Taiwanese architect, C.Y. Lee ( the designer of Taipei 101). It is now a narrowly-shaped five-story building with a modern lift, which is rare to see in any Asian temples.

Opposite the temple is a plague commemorating the 228 massacre that started at that spot in 1947.

Dadaocheng theatre - a theatre where one can enjoy traditional opera including puppet shows, Taiwanese, Hakka and Beijing opera.

Yongle market - next to the Dadaocheng theatre and on the first ( or second if you are non-British) floor of the Yongle market is a haven for fabrics lovers. The market is like a maze but it has everything one needs for sewing!

URS44 story house ( with web link) - this small "story house" is located inside a 1924 colonial building and it is part of the city's Urban Regeneration Station ( URS). Visitors can learn about the area's history from writings, old photographs and architectural models.


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Top left: Dadaocheng theatre; top right: Yongle fabric market; Main: paper craft of the Chinese zodiac signs; Bottom left: URS44 Story house; bottom right: plaque marks the spot where historical 228 massacre started.


Since this area's history is intertwined with tea trading, so a stop at the 106-year old Wang’s Tea shop is a must. This shop/ factory has been here since 1935 and it has a shop for tea and teaware, and a working refinery factory at the back. Not realising that factory tours need to be booked in advance, I turned up unannounced but managed to get a brief tour by their kind staff. Walking around, I felt like I was transported back in time, I could imagine the place looking quite similar a century ago!

Opposite the tea house is the Chaoyang Tealeaf Park established in 2003 by the city's Government. The park itself is not very special, but what caught my attention was the floor plaques that illustrated the process of tea making or manufacturing which is quite thoughtful and educational.


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Top left: Wang's tea shop front; top right: Floor plaques outside of the Chaoyang Tealeaf Park; Main, bottom left & right: Wang's tea refinery factory



This post was posted in Architecture, Shopping, Shopping guide, Travel, Taipei, Architectural conservation, Colonial architecture and was tagged with shopping, Colonial architecture, Taipei