KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) -- There can be something ethereal and other-worldly about visiting a lighthouse. They are often located on isolated, windswept cliffs, enjoying spectacular views over the oceans. Many are ancient buildings with long histories and many stories to tell about the incidents they have witnessed and the interesting people who have lived in them.
In total, Taiwan boasts no fewer than 36 lighthouses, but to date, only twelve are open to the public. This is about to change though. Last week, the Cape Santiago Lighthouse (三貂角燈塔) located on the easternmost point of the Taiwan's main island, opened to the public for the first time. More are to follow including Fugueijiao Lighthouse (富貴角燈塔) on the northern tip of Shimen District, New Taipei.
There are plans to open a total of 21 lighthouses to the public in the end, with those remaining off-limits being mostly located in busy commercial or military areas. But there are plenty of lighthouses around Taiwan open to visitors already and in this article, we have picked out our top 5. If there are others you would recommend, feel free to share them with our readers on our Facebook and Twitter pages:
5. Yuwengdao Lighthouse, Penghu - 漁翁島燈塔
Yuwengdao Lighthouse, which is located in Wai'an Village, Xiyu Township on Penghu is the oldest lighthouse in Taiwan. It was first constructed as Xiyu Station, a military outpost in 1778 during the reign of the Guangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, according to a dated stele in a stone tower on the site. The present lighthouse dates back to 1875.
It is a modest height, at just 11 meters tall, but for more than two hundred years, it has played a crucial role in protecting ships traveling between Taiwan and China from the perilous rocks around Penghu. It is no longer a working lighthouse today, but is a popular Penghu tourist attraction and, as a Grade II listed historical monument is being well-preserved for future generations to enjoy.
4. Fangyuan Lighthouse, Chunghua - 芳苑燈塔
Image Credit: Wikimedia
Fangyuan Lighthouse, which is located in Fangyuan Township, Changhua County, is a modern lighthouse. It was built in 1983 and stands an impressive 37.4 meters tall. This makes it the tallest lighthouse in the country. It is a hugely striking building which dominates the skyline for miles around. Fangyuan Lighthouse is an interesting octagonal shape and is designed with black and white vertical stripes to highlight is design.
While Fangyuan Lighthouse may be the youngest lighthouse in Taiwan, it is also considered the most unique. And it is already open to the public, so you can see for yourself what that striking tall building in the middle of a small Taiwanese fishing village is all about.
3. Eluanbi Lighthouse, Kenting - 鵝鑾鼻燈塔
Image Credit: Wikimedia
The Eluanbi Lighthouse in Kenting is the most visited lighthouse in Taiwan at the moment, attracting no fewer than 400,000 visitors in 2017. It is located on Cape Eluanbi, the southernmost point of Taiwan, and is known as "The Light of East Asia" because of its strong light (the most powerful in Taiwan) and its location at the point where the Taiwan Strait meets the Pacific Ocean.
Eluanbi Lighthouse was built in 1883 during the Qing Dynasty. It was commissioned after a series of disasters around the area and was designed by English architect W. F. Spindey. Interestingly, the lighthouse was also fortified, making it the world’s only armed lighthouse. During World War II the lighthouse was damaged in bombing raids and in 1962, it was rebuilt in the conical style seen today. Today, in addition to still functioning as a lighthouse, there is a small museum in the complex and it also sits next to the Eluanbi Memorial of Taiwan Eight Magnificent Sceneries.
2. Dongyong Lighthouse, Dongyin Island - 東湧燈塔
Image Credit: Wikimedia
The spectacular Dongyong Lighthouse hugs the cliffs of Dongyin Township, on Dongyin Island of the Matsu Island group. It is another lighthouse constructed by British engineers during the Qing Dynasty, although construction wasn’t completed until 1902. Today, locals refer to it as “Dongyin Villa” in reference to the classic architecture.
The lighthouse itself stands just over 14 meters tall and is equipped with two fog water cannons. Visitors to the lighthouse have to make their way down a fairly steep stone staircase, built at the same time as the lighthouse. But they are rewarded with some stunning panoramic views over the Taiwan Strait looking north-east and the opportunity to see the northernmost lighthouse in all of Taiwan.
1. Cijin Lighthouse, Kaohsiung - 旗津燈塔
Image Credit: Post.gov.tw
The picturesque Cijin Lighthouse is located in Cijin District, Kaohsiung at the mouth of Kaohsiung Harbor. It can trace its history back to 1863 when Kaohsiung (then Takao) harbor was first opened up to foreign traders after the signing of the Convention of Peking. Shortly after that, British engineers built a lighthouse on top of Mount Ki-au (旗後山) on the south side of the harbor as well as the British Consulate on the northern side.
The lighthouse was renovated in 1918 and has remained much the same to this day. As well as enjoying a small museum, visitors to Cijin Lighthouse can also enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Kaohsiung Harbor and the city beyond as well as watch the regular cargo ships coming in and out. Many will also combine a trip with a walk around the neighboring Cihou Fort (旗後砲台) which also dates from the 19thcentury.