Tue, Sep 13, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Keelung historic sites to be restored

LIVING HISTORY:Aside from restoring buildings, the city seeks to replicate the atmosphere of different time periods, a Keelung Cultural Bureau official said

By Lu Hsien-hsiu and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Historic sites in Keelung dating back to the Dutch and Spanish colonial periods are to be restored, after the city government pledged to make a large financial contribution for their restoration.

Keelung Harbor has long been an important point of contact between Taiwan and the outside world. First visited by Spain and other nations more than 400 years ago, the area is home to numerous historic relics. The Keelung City Government has said it would allocate NT$550 million (US$17.34 million) to preserve the relics in a restoration project subsidized by the Ministry of Culture.

The project seeks to rebuild parts of the Baimiweng Fort, Keelung Fort Command and the residences belonging to it.

The project will be a cross-agency effort that, in addition to members of the Keelung Cultural Affairs Bureau, will involve the Urban Development Bureau, Public Works Bureau and Keelung Department of Transportation and Tourism, Keelung Cultural Affairs Bureau Director Peng Chun-heng (彭俊亨) said.

Peng added that the project will be of tremendous proportions, covering Dashawan (大沙灣), Syugang (旭崗), Peace Island (和平島) and the west side of Keelung Harbor, all of which were focal points of historical interaction between Taiwanese and Europeans due to their strategic importance.

“It is my hope that through the restoration of these cultural properties, the improvement of these public spaces and the tying of them together as related places of interest we can retell the story of historical Keelung,” Peng said.

Dashawan is to form the core of the Sea Voyage History Cultural Park, which is to include a memorial for those who died at sea, a commemorative park for the Sino-French War, remnants of a stone protective barrier that surrounded the harbor at Dashawan, the Keelung Fort Command and the associated officers’ residences.

Peng said that many of the sites would be connected with a foot path and would be accessible from parking lots.

The Keelung Fort Command was previously inaccessible, as it is on Keelung Coast Guard property, but now that appropriation measures for the site have been taken, renovation work can begin next year, said Kuo Li-ya (郭麗雅), head of the Cultural Affairs Bureau’s property section.

Kuo said the residences that have sustained extensive damage have been cordoned off with steel barriers.

The buildings will be restored next year along with the command building, Kuo said, adding that Baimiweng Fort on the west side of Keelung Harbor will be connected with Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼) lighthouse by a system of walkways.

“Aside from the restoration of the properties, we plan to replicate the atmosphere of different time periods with mobile guided-tour technology and overlapping maps, which would let people experience the scenery of different time periods and let them know what was happening in those periods,” she said. “We will enable the sites to tell their stories.”

Peng said he expects the about NT$820 million project, of which the government will cover NT$550 million, to be completed in 2019.

The project will allow the story of these sites to be told, as well as boost the leisure and tourism industries, Keelung city councilors Yu Hsiang-yao (游祥耀) and Lan Min-huang (藍敏煌) said, adding that the project could benefit from cooperation with locals and creative artists.

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