Bopiliao Old Street 剝皮寮老街, originally Fupiliao Street 福皮寮街, usually just referred as Bopiliao 剝皮寮, is a historic street in Taipei's old Wanhua District (also known as Monga and Bangka), that was beautifully renovated in recent years. It's today one of the most visited historic sites in Wanhua, as well as all of Taipei, attracting foreign and local tourists alike, especially after the highly acclaimed movie Monga.
Beautiful calligraphy found in Bopiliao.
A brief history of Bopiliao
Bopiliao Old Street and the accompanying buildings are just a very small part of what used to be known as Bangka, one of the oldest and most developed parts of Taipei a few centuries ago. The area has gone through various historic eras: The early Qing Dynasty rule (1683-1862), when Taiwan was part of Fujian province, Bangka and Bopiliao were not that important outside its local confines. In the late Qing period, from 1862 to 1895, the Port of Tamsui was opened to foreign trade and Bangka became one of the economic and cultural centers of all of Taiwan, which subsequently became its own province (1885). A decade later Japan invaded and occupied Taiwan and ruled over the island with an iron fist for 50 years (source). The 50 years of Kuomintang's stringent one party rule had the consequence, that Wanhua almost completely lost its former glory, because most of the trade and commerce was shifted to the East District, today known as Xinyi. With the exception of few historic sites (including Bopiliao) and Ximending, Wanhua is today one of the poorest areas of Taipei proper, struggling with an aging population and homeless people (see photos).
Desert Zhang's concert at Bopiliao.
Nevertheless, things are slowly improving. It took almost a decade to renovate Bopiliao and the local residents were the ones, that fought for the preservation of the old buildings (source). This is a good indicator, that there is hope for Wanhua's future. If you decide to visit the famous old street today, be prepared to see a lot of those ugly Japanese neocolonial buildings with no soul between among a few less obvious Fujianese gems - the rich and long history left its mark on Bopiliao. The name "剝皮寮" literally means "remove skin hut" - Bopiliao was therefore the part of Bangka, where "tree bark was peeled off".
Bopiliao is today a venue for exhibitions, concerts and various activities. It looked a little abandoned on the Saturday morning, when I paid it a visit, but that was great, because I could take some very clean shots of the area without disturbing any passers-by.
Check my photos from August 2012:
How to go to Bopiliao
Finding Bopiliao is very easy: Take the Taipei Metro and go out at Longshan MRT Station Exit 1. Walk through the small Monga Park with the fountain towards the Longshan Temple (hard to miss) and then turn right - walk about 2 min straight and you should see the Bopiliao Historic Block at a bigger crossroad. Cross over and you are there.
View Taiwan Map by Kafkaesque in a larger map
Map and useful information
▷ RELATED INFORMATION
• Pinyin: Buōpíliáo lǎojiē / Fúpíliáo jiē
• Related website: Homepage
• My useful tips: Transportation in Taipei
▷ NEARBY SITES
• Longshan Temple
• Huaxi Street
• Guangzhou Street
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