There’s something so exciting about escaping the busy streets of a city and discovering a piece of forgotten and abandoned history. If you’re interested in urban exploration, the ruins of this Keelung’s abandoned mansion called the Khóo Tsú-song Old House (Qingyu Hall) are well worth a visit!
Walking through the streets of Keelung, I had noticed a few eerie-looking old buildings, but read about an abandoned mansion clinging to the hillside and overlooking the city so of course I grabbed my camera and went in search of it.
Getting Lost In Keelung’s Back Alleys
Keelung is a city surrounded by mountains and it’s easy to forget that when you only visit the harbour. But when I read that the entry point to this abandoned mansion was just a small lane off Miaokou Night Market, I ended up straying down several of Keelung’s back alleys. This just added to the charm of the adventure and, by chance, I discovered a lot of hidden life.
Scenic Views Over The City From Keelung’s Abandoned Mansion
After winding my way through one back alley after another, I finally found myself walking up a flight of steps flanked by old, dilapidated houses and junk scattered around. I kept thinking that this couldn’t be the approach to such a historic building, but ventured up anyway and luckily they took me to a platform with far-reaching views over the city. I realised this place was part of the Old Mansion and wondered how it had been left deserted for all this time.
Overgrown By Nature
Once I pried myself away from the view, I ventured up another set of stairs to the second floor of the Old House. The original structure of the mansion was visible, but nature had completely taken over and turned it into a scene straight out of the Jungle Book. Brown banyan tree roots sprouted from the brickwork and green ferns hung over the door frames.
I honestly could not believe that somewhere so beautiful was not overflowing with tourists or at least some historical preservation society. But I must say that I enjoyed the rare moment of peace to explore all alone. The house seemed to be a collection of different architectural styles and I really felt like this must have been such an important place to be, which only added to the mystery of how it had been left to decay.
Understanding & Preserving History
When I returned home, I was curious to learn more about how such a grand and beautiful building could be left in such a state without any effort to preserve it. I found out that the mansion had been built for the mayor of Renai District in 1931 and that the owner, Khóo Tsú-song, was a lover of poetry and art; perhaps the reason why the building was designed so artistically and represented several styles of architecture.
The house was eventually abandoned by the final owners more than 30 years ago, although little is known as to why this happened. The city seemed to have completely forgotten about the beautiful Old Mansion overlooking the Night Market. It wasn’t until 2014 that a group of volunteers, called the Keelung Youth Front, began to clean up the house so people could visit it again. After reading this, I really could not understand why the city did not seem to be interested in preserving its history, but I understood that tourists have an opportunity to help increase awareness of these places and hopefully prevent them from being completely forgotten.
Keelung is such a unique place in Taiwan; somewhere you can escape tourists and discover a lot of hidden and unknown history. While walking around the lanes and pathways of the city, I found myself wondering what lay along the streets I did not take. And after discovering the Khóo Tsú-song Old Mansion, I really want to encourage other travellers to explore the streets and find out more about Keelung!
If you’re interested in learning more about the city from local people, by all means sign up for one of our walking tours!