As Taiwan’s oldest city and first capital, Tainan is considered the island country’s cultural and historical hub. Established by the Dutch in the early 17th century when they colonized southern Taiwan, Tainan has gone through 400 years of history that has included Qing Dynasty rule, Japanese colonization and the 20th century martial era. Tainan has a lot of historical buildings as well as a laidback atmosphere replete with alleys and lanes featuring small workshops, temples and old homes.
I’d first visited Tainan on a daytrip many years ago with family but last year, I went there for a couple of days for both leisure and travel writing research. I enjoyed the city a lot on my first trip (I consider it my favorite Taiwanese city for travel) and I wasn’t disappointed when I returned.
Tainan’s most famous sites are the old Dutch forts of Fort Anping (Zeelandia) and Chihkan Tower (Provintia), the Confucius Temple, and the National Museum of Taiwan History. Then, there are also contemporary arts attractions like Blueprint Culture and Creative Park and the new Tainan Art Museum. Tainan also has impressive historical buildings include Hayashi Department Store (built in 1932), Museum of Taiwan Literature, and the Anping Tree House. The latter is actually the ruins of a 19th-century warehouse that was overrun with the roots of banyan trees to create this amazing spectacle with an ancient vibe.
Blueprint Culture and Creative Park is a former prison dormitory turned art center with large beautiful murals, quirky outdoor cartoon statues, art galleries and stores housed in several buildings. Opened at the end of 2015, Blueprint’s main attraction is an old house painted in blue (see top photo above) with white lines to create a 3D visual experience, basically a blueprint come to life.
Tainan Art Museum first opened last October and fully opened recently. It sounds confusing, but the museum features two buildings that are on separate sites on the same street. Building 1 is a former colonial police station that was refurbished with a new extension built around, and was opened last October. Building 2 is a brand-new building featuring an open pentagonal shell, which was opened at the end of January. Building 1 showcases fine paintings from local artists of oldtime Tainan and historical events. Building 2 features contemporary art, but as it wasn’t open yet, I could view it. The two minutes are within 3 minutes of each other along You’ai Street.
Both Blueprint and the Art Museum’s Building 1 are fine examples of Taiwan’s admirable habit of converting unused historical buildings into art and cultural space for the public.
How to get there: Take a taxi or bus to the two places as Tainan has no subway.
Tainan Art Museum’s Building 1
Building 1 features a lot of good paintings done by Tainan artists
Building 1 features an open central courtyard with a large banyan tree
Some of Building 1’s galleries were not yet open. The white part of the building is a new extension while the brown part is the old pre-existing part.
Building 2 (3 minutes from Building 1), still under construction when I visited. It was just opened at the end of January.