Monday, September 10, 2012

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The Red House, Ximen, Taipei

9/10/2012 Taiwan Explorer

The Red House 西門紅樓 (lit. Ximen Red House), often also called Red House Theater, is a famous octagonal red-bricked landmark of Taipei, located in northern Wanhua District, in the part commonly known as Ximending. This is perhaps one of the best Western-style architecture examples in the city and is today a very popular tourist attraction - it's become a must-see site for travelers to Taipei.

The History of the Red House

The Red House was built in 1908 during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan and designed by the Kondō Jūrō 近藤十郎, who was assigned to design a new market. When opened to public, it was called New Street Market 新起街市場 or West Gate Market 西門市場 (sometimes also Romanized as Nishimon Market). The purpose of the building changed after World War II. It still served as a market until 1949, but then it was changed to a theater and was renamed Shanghai Garden Theater 滬園劇場 by a Shanghainese business man, who fled to Taiwan with the KMT. The theater was a venue for operas, but it had little success. In 1951 it was renamed as Red House Book Market 紅樓書場 and additional opera styles were added to the program, such as Yueju opera. The venue became more and more popular and trendy, we could say that the building's golden years have started.
The success with the operas lead to another change of name in 1956, as the house was renamed to Red House Theater 紅樓劇場. In 1963 it was renamed again - it was known as Red House Cinema 紅樓電影院 and was quite popular up until the 1970s. It slowly on importance throughout the the 1980s and 1990s. The year 1997 was a big turning point for the building: It was proclaimed a Class III historical site, however the theater was closed down the same year. In order to preserve the beautiful house, the Taipei City Government decided to invest in extensive renovations, which commenced in 1999. A second golden era for the house began in the new millennium: In 2007 it was given in operation to the Taipei Culture Foundation, that is doing an excellent job in filling the venue with interesting exhibitions, concerts, theater plays and activities. The Red House is surrounded with shops, restaurants and cafes and has turned into one of the hottest spots for domestic and foreign visitors, who come to Taipei. | All historic information was found here and here. I also recommend to read Taiwan Review: Taipei's Old, but Hot, Red House.

See my photos of the Red House from August 2012:

The Red House on a sunny day.

I walked closer.

Snapshot of the top part.

The whole building.

Characters read as: Xi Men Hong Lou.

Another angle.

A closeup on the brick facade.

These tents are sheltering the souvenir vendors.

I walked to the other side.

There is something like a beer garden.

Reminds me of Europe.

The Red House in its full beauty.

The Red House inside

If you do visit the Red House, go inside, the interior was beautifully renovated in the recent years. There is a permanent exhibition, that shows the building's history, there is even a café and a souvenir shop as well as a theater, which is located upstairs. Check some of my photos of the inside:

An overview.

The central part.

Exhibiting the Red House's past.

The central display area.

The tea shop.

The souvenir market

The square near the Red House is a great place to shop for souvenirs.

Retro bags for camera buffs.

Something for Taiwan ROC Sun Yat-sen fans.

The Red House at night

The Red House on a weekday's evening.

The rain doesn't keep away real Red House fans.

How to find the Red House

Finding the Red House is very easy: You have to go out at Ximen MRT Station Exit 1, cross a street and you are there. The house sticks out from the rest, you can hardly miss it.

View Taiwan Map by Kafkaesque in a larger map

Map and useful information


Ningnuo Pinyin: Xīmén Hónglóu
Related website: Homepage
My useful tips: Transportation in Taipei
District: Wanhua


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