Bopiliao Historical Block 剝皮寮, Heritage and Culture Education Center of Taipei City
Why Should I Go?
Originally the main road connecting the area surrounding Longshan Temple (龍山寺) to the Guting area (nearby the present-day Shi-Da Night Market), the road is now preserved by the city government as a historical and cultural district where visitors can admire many different architectural styles.
At its peak during the late Qing Dynasty period (late 1800s), Bopiliao was one of the busiest and most prosperous commercial areas in Taipei, home to various merchants and was one of the major areas for the coal trade. During the Japanese occupation (1895-1945), new urban planning relegated the thoroughfare to a back alley as new roads (Guangzhou St in this example) were constructed to connect various parts of the city together in a more cohesive manner. This new connectivity within the city diminished the relevance of the area and it fell into disrepair. In the early 2000s, the Taipei City government worked to restore the historic architecture of the area and established the Heritage and Culture Education Center to protect the legacy of the area.
The architecture of the area encompasses many different styles as Taiwan was passed from one colonial power to the next, including Southern Fujianese, Chinese Qing Dynasty, Japanese, ROC brutalist architecture influences, and modern Western architectural influences. The preserved area in the northern section is home to more traditional Qing Dynasty-period architecture, while the surrounding streets have developed with time. Primary characteristics include red brick arches, balconies, embellishments, and other decorative elements representative of the time periods.
Over time, the area’s buildings have been renovated and remodeled primarily with cement and brick materials and terrazzo flooring made from stone. As the street was the primary commercial district of Wanhua (Bangka) District, shops would cooperate to provide cover from wind and rain by creating a covered walkway where pedestrians could shop in more comfort. This concept was very well received by local residents, and this legacy can now be seen all over Taiwan.
The Heritage and Culture Education Center was established by the Taipei City government in 2006 to complement the restoration of Bopiliao. Located at the southeast corner of the complex next to Laosong Elementary School, the museum has 2 levels of permanent exhibitions open to the public with free entry.
One section of the museum is dedicated to the development of education in Taiwan, explaining the Imperial Chinese education system and its relation to local people, as well as how the Japanese occupation and nationalist ROC government affected the development of education in Taiwan. The exhibits are rich in historical artifacts including educational materials and explanations of the complex education system with relation to the caste system established by the Qing Dynasty (known as “Confucian Schools”), ethnicity-segregated education system established by the Japanese, and nationalist inclusive education system established by the ROC government, as well as period recreations of typical classroom atmospheres allowing visitors to experience the past.
The other section of the museum details the development of medical care in Taiwan, describing the efforts of western missionary groups that began arriving the late 1800s and their contributions to Taiwanese society, as well as an exhibition about a local doctor named Dr Lu A-Chang and his positive influence on the health of residents living in the Bopiliao area. Other exhibits describe the uses of Traditional Chinese Medicine and provide some context for visitors to understand the local medical industry in Wanhua District and its impact on the rest of the city.
How to Get There?
The area surrounding Longshan Temple in Wanhua (Bangka) was one of the first commercial districts in northern Taiwan due to its proximity to the Tamsui River and connectivity with the eastern parts of Taipei via the main street at Bopiliao.
Along the main road are several points of interest to those with knowledge of local history, including businesses that have lasted for over 200 years (known in Chinese as 老店) and a building which became home to a political refugee from the Qing government after a failed attempt at reforms in China and his subsequent persecution.
While all three of the main attractions open at 9AM, the main alley closes at 9PM, the buildings close at 6PM, and the museum closes at 5PM. All attractions are closed on Mondays.
Bopiliao may also be known as Bopiliao Old Street (剝皮寮老街), Bo Pi Liao, or misspelled as bopilao.