TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — 44 South Village is a gentrified creative community center (文創) — formerly one of Taiwan’s first military dependents' villages — in the Xinyi District of Taipei, near the majestic Taipei 101.
If you are looking for a relaxing place to spend an afternoon with friends or family, but are tired of the usual destinations — like the Lin Family Mansion and Garden in Banqiao or National Palace Museum — then 44 South Village is an ideal alternative. It's a great place to wander around typical Taiwan mid-20th century architecture, enjoy an afternoon tea with authentic bagels, or shop for cute stationary at artsy handicraft stores.
What are military dependents' villages? During World War II, Kuomintang (KMT) soldiers were forced to flee from China and relocated to Taiwan after losing to the communists. The soldiers and their families built what they thought would be temporary homes, since they would reconquer China.
This did not happen, so military dependents' villages sprung up all over the island nation. As its name suggests, 44 South Village is where the 44th Arsenal of Tsingtao’s Combined Logistics Command and their families settled when they arrived in Taiwan during the 1940s-1950s.
Even though many veterans villages have been destroyed due to the construction of modern buildings in the 1990s, some of those that have survived are preserved as historic sites. 44 South Village is one of the prettiest and easiest to access.
It too, however, was once threatened with being razed, since land in Xinyi District is so valuable and developers wanted to turn the area into commercial use. The villagers and cultural preservation advocates proved to be strong opposition, and eventually 44 South Village got a preservation order and was renovated, while a museum and art galleries were added to promote Taiwanese culture.
There are plenty of sweet spots for great pics at 44 South Village. (Taiwan News photo)
The village can be divided into four main areas:
- Building A is the Xinyi parent-child play center, a space with toys and games for children.
- Building B, Military Dependents' Village Exhibitions, a center that displays historical relics showing off the village’s past.
- Building C includes a souvenir store selling artistic goods, creative designs made by local artists, farmer's produce, and other handmade products; and Good Cho's, best known for its bagels, also serves hamburgers, desserts, and beverages.
- Additionally, the Simple Market is a flea market with tents that are set up in the outdoor space of the village on weekends.
While enjoying a walk around historical buildings, it's easy to get a sense of nostalgia and a taste of the lifestyle in the 50s and 60s. If you love taking pictures, the wooden doors painted with bright, vibrant colors, or the green ferns growing out from vintage-style pottery can all serve as aesthetic backgrounds for some very Instagrammable pictures.
44 South Village is living history and a great place to walk around. (Taiwan News photo)
44 South Village is well served by public transport. Just hop on the MRT Red Line (Tamsui-Xinyi), head to Taipei 101 Station, and head out from Exit 2. Walk straight, and then turn left onto Zhuangjing Road, and you will arrive at the village (it's only a 2-5 minute walk).
Although it's rarely mentioned in most major travel guides, 44 South Village really is a hidden gem in the city center. It's not only a low-budget option, as it’s free to visit, but it's also a peaceful getaway from the usual hustle and bustle of Taipei's busy streets.