Xunfang Fortress 巽方砲台

Xunfang Fortress, Tainan
Xunfang Fortress from within the monastery grounds.

Xunfang Fortress 巽方砲台 is another obscure historic site in Tainan 台南 that I found while digging into the archives of the excellent Tainan City Guide. This Qing dynasty era ruin can be found on the grounds of a monastery in East Tainan not far from the location of Dadong Night Market 大東夜市.

Usually I write up these finds myself but Karl Bergman—the author of Tainan City Guide—has done such a fantastic job that I will simply quote him at length (slightly edited with some extra links thrown in):

Throughout most of the Qing Period in Taiwan (18th and 19th centuries), the island had a reputation as a revolutionary hot spot. Both the aboriginals and the Han peasants frequently revolted against the Manchu Qing. For many of the Han peasantry, the Qing were colonial occupiers who administered the island with the same restrictive class divisions that the Japanese would later apply. Both small and large uprisings were frequent, but two rebellions in particular resulted in the Qing securing Tainan’s defenses. In the 1720s rebels took control over and occupied Tainan (then called Taiwan-fu). Upon its recovery by the Qing, the first city walls and gates were constructed. Tainan was again taken and occupied temporarily by rebels in 1833, which resulted in more walls being placed in outer wards. Inland fortresses were also constructed in conjunction with these walls.

Xunfang Fortress is the only remaining inland fortress in Tainan. Built in 1836 using granite stones and cement, it was one of two forts guarding the eastern areas beyond the Great East Gate. Outer walls, gates (such as Duiyuemen), and forts were built in response to uprisings in the 1830s. Xunfang Fortress is in the southeast of the city, thus it is named for for the bāguà southeast direction known as xùn 巽.

Tainan City Guide has a bit more to say about Xunfang Fortress but that’s the gist of the history of the place.

A lazy dog day afternoon in Xunfang Fortress, Tainan
The interior of the fortress has been remade without concern for its historicity.
On the rooftop of Xunfang Fortress
Not only is it the sole remaining inland fortress in Taiwan but you could also have lunch on the roof! The monastery can be seen in the background.

Final note: the gates to the monastery close at night so you’ll have to visit Xunfang Fortress by day. Entrance is free—just like most things in Tainan 台南. For more photos and history in Chinese simply search for the characters and you’ll turn up more blogs like this one.

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