Located in Anping District, the Fort Zeelandia (Anping Castle), is an ancient fortress in Tainan, the old capital of Taiwan. Called different names throughout the years, Fort Zeelandia is one of the most historically interesting structures in the city.
Occupied by different rulers throughout different periods, the Anping Castle has been named “Orange City” or “Orlande” and “Fort Zeelandia” (during the Dutch rule), “Anping City” and “Anping Castle” (during Koxinga period), “The Old Dutch Fort” and finally “Anping Fort” (during the Japanese colonial period). Nowadays, it is better known as Fort Anping and is one of the most visited historical spots in the city.
Certainly, if you’re looking for a bit of history and culture-soaking in Tainan, there is no better place to go to than the Anping Castle in Anping District, the historical and cultural heart of Tainan. The Fort itself goes back to as early as the 17th Century. The Fort was first built in 1623 over a ten-year period during the colonization of the Dutch in the country.
The Dutch picked the sandy coast of Tainan to build the fortress on. This was so they would have direct access to the sea for supplies from Batavia and for easy evacuation in case of a military operation or a siege from the Japanese. The only downside to having their fortress by the coast was the lack of fresh water which they had to have shipped, then, from the mainland.
In late 17th Century, on April 30 1661, the Anping Castle defenses were attacked by the Japanese forces lead by Koxinga, the arch commander of the Ming Troops of Ming Dynasty. Over 2,000 Dutch soldiers defended the tower, but with about 400 ships and 25,000 men at Koxinga’s disposal, and without further help from Batavia, the Dutch were bound to lose. Indeed, after the nine-month period of siege, the Dutch, tired and running short of fresh water, finally surrendered the fortress on February 1, 1662.
BUILDING THE FORT ZEELANDIA
The bricks that were used for the fortress was said to have come from Batavia (Jakarta, Java in Indonesia). The construction mixture was composed of sugar, sand, ground seashells and glutinous rice. The semi-circular walls were originally done in three concentric layers and the four corners were designed to protrude for better protection.
Nowadays, what you’ll see of the Anping Castle are the only remains of the original Dutch construction. Some parts of the wall fortification and the external brick wall are all that’s left of the original structure.
When you visit, you will also be able to see the observation tower, the statue of Koxinga, some imitation cannons of the original and an old Banyan standing like a proud witness of the city’s rich history and heritage. The office building also serves as a museum where people can go to for educational, cultural and historical entertainment.
The Fort Zeelandia (Anping Castle) is truly a concrete reminder of Tainan’s past, and one that you should consider visiting anytime you’re in Tainan.