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Tainan Next

Tainan was the capital of Taiwan from 1663 to 1885. Its history and modern flavor is inextricably linked with the exploits of Koxinga.

Lord of Imperial Surname, Koxinga, was a Ming loyalist at odds with the new Manchu Qing court. He fled to Taiwan and arrived near Tainan in 1661 together with 30,000 troops in 8,000 war junks. Upon arrival, he besieged the Dutch fort, driving them from the island. He carried on to establish his Ming Empire, which lasted three generations until his grandson surrendered to the Manchu court.

Apart from just him and the troops, Koxinga brought along the camphorwood icon of Matsu, which currently sits in the shrine at Luerhmen (Deer Ear Gate) where Koxinga first landed. His entourage also included about 1,000 writers, artists, musicians, craftsmen, and master chefs. These are the people that would launch the Chinese cultural rebirth in Taiwan.

Tainan today is no different from the yesteryear. The city maintains its rich cultural legacy and continues to progress in restoring its former glory. The population of Taiwan's fourth largest city is approximately one million. The industry here is based on agriculture, fishing, and tourism. Tainan is completely traditional in manner with hundreds of shrines and temples, which are the hallmark of the area. Festivals are celebrated excessively as compared to the areas of the north, and most residents speak the local Taiwanese dialect instead of Mandarin.

Culinary affairs are far more special in Tainan than in Taipei. The array of cuisine offered here is unimaginable. To complete the evening, many Tainanese retreat to cozy chic cafes or tea houses to enjoy a stimulating cup of coffee or tea. Nightlife in Tainan is far more sober than in Taipei or Taichung.

Tainan's main points of interest are in the old downtown section, stretching east to west between Chihkan Towers and the railway station, north to south between Chungshan Park and Koxinga's Shrine. Exploring the city by foot, day or night, is delightful.

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