PHOTO STORY: Tainan's Architecture is Something Special

PHOTO STORY: Tainan's Architecture is Something Special
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Tainan's focus on preserving its traditional Taiwanese architecture is a beacon of hope in an ocean of soulless modernity.

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Tainan has long been known for its authentic representation of Taiwanese cuisine and culture, and many are now starting to appreciate its dedication to preserving Taiwan’s architectural tradition as well. A tour through the historic part of Tainan can give you a clear idea why the city tops the list of must-visit places for many tourists. The antique-looking balcony of many residential houses and the city's historic temples are some of the best examples of Taiwan’s architectural excellence.

Tainan temple
Credit: William Yang

Instead of randomly erecting a modern-looking skyscraper in the middle of some of Tainan’s most prominent historic sites, the city government keeps the area close to its original look by maintaining iconic architectural flourishes in many historic buildings. The result is that the whole area retains a coherent look and feel that is not spoiled by modern buildings unexpectedly disrupting the view.

Temple in Tainan
Credit: William Yang

If you visit Tainan, don't miss the chance to wander among its densely packed historic temples. A few uniquely Taiwanese architectural features can be spotted on the way, including dominant red coloring, colorful dragon sculptures, and golden decorations on censors. They reflect the depth of Taiwan’s architectural tradition while showcasing the unique taste, aesthetic perception and design concepts that run through Taiwan’s architectural history.

Taiana Roofline

Many of these traditional elements are slowly disappearing; replaced by modern, and less distinctly Taiwanese architecture but Tainan remains a living example of how Taiwanese cities can build a positive reputation among tourists through an emphasis on cultural traditions. If we focus on highlighting the cultural traditions that are uniquely Taiwanese, we may have a better chance of earning more positive recognition that could eventually help us cope with the growing international alienation.

Bagua Doorway in Tainan
Temple architecture in southern Taiwan
Incense burners in a Tainan temple
Votive vases in a Taiwanese temple
Temple architecture phtography
A boy outside a temple in Tainan

This piece was republished with permission. It was originally published on Taipei Love Notes here. Taipei Love Notes is a blogging project that compiles personal appreciation and love toward Taipei. The blog hopes to help people rediscover their love for Taipei.

TNL Editor: David Green