Maybe you’re a keen adventurer who likes to explore beyond the beaten path. Keelung offers such a person much to explore; with its antique gems hidden amongst the city, ‘Swan Cave’ could be your next visit.
The Hidden City
Down into the valley, through the web of stairs, exists Swan Cave. A serene place that is unlike anything else in Taiwan and had, before falling into disrepair, been one of Taiwan’s 8 scenic spots. Though now, it still remains as a work of art, inherited from generations before.
Swan Cave is Taiwan’s first literary trail. Built in 1950, Swan Cave was designed to immerse the explorer in works of literature by famous literary masters of the time. I hadn’t realized this at first, but on further inspection, poetry marks the walls and pillars of each and every pavilion; the place is literally built on the works of the poets.
Here, the furthest pillar of ‘Xuzhou Pavilion’ reads, “Promote physical exercise for Body and Mind”. Early morning meetings are held in Swan Cave, encouraging exercise and socializing (especially among the elderly). If you’re especially keen, why not pay the annual fee of 1200 NT to use all the related equipment?
Explore the 12 Pavilions
With 12 in total, these rugged pavilions stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the trees of the forest, creating this feeling of a hidden city, with each pavilion having its own personality. You could sit up on one of these pavilions and watch over the rich surrounding nature for hours, admiring the rare scene: young and old, wandering or playing, all amongst the dancing of the trees; a city in the view, vaguely animated, though hushed by the voice of the forest.
Mr. Chen Qiyin, one of the contributing poets, later remarked in a poem about Swan Cave that “the spring mountains seem to be like paintings leaning against the fence; why do you need to look for a fairyland outside of the world?”
The view up on the tallest pavilion is amazing, with the sight being part park, part city: a seamless clash of urban and rural. Up on this pavilion, you are distinctly separate from the crowd below, and almost get to enjoy the entirety of the place to yourself.
I’m not quite sure why it’s called Swan Cave, but in every cave exists a dragon! Well… this cave doesn’t quite have a dragon but it does have little turtles, koi fish, and of course, the 2 swans.
The Future of Swan Cave
Swan Cave had been, for the most part, hidden and neglected as a scenic spot of the city, with tourists often overlooking its existence. To its credit, though, this neglect has shaped the Swan Cave we know today: a place of hidden beauty, where nature slowly encroaches, creating a fresh and immersive atmosphere. Though things are changing. With the recent go-ahead of the ‘Interior Minister’, Lin Yu-chang, a sum of NT$71.43 million will devoted to Swan Cave’s renovation, symbolizing that Swan Cave is still cherished by the community of Keelung. With hopes that the place can become safer and more accessible, who knows what future of the city in the forest will be.
Maybe not so Hidden anymore: How to find Swan Cave
Before then, though, Swan Cave can still be found in its all its overgrown glory so, if I have managed to convince you to come explore Swan Cave yourself, why not help yourself to some of our maps? The first shows you all the entrances you can take leading into the park; and the second is a map of all the major pavilions you can observe. Enjoy!
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