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Exploring Hong Kong’s Colonial History

Posted: 11th May 2015 09:20

Hong Kong’s colonial past began with the First Opium War (1839-1842), when an aggressively expanding British Empire came into conflict with Chinese officials over trading policies.  The city was ceded to the British at the end of the war when The Treaty of Nanking opened five Chinese ports allowing ‘favoured countries’ free trade.  Hong Kong remained under British control until 1997, and as a result, Hong Kong is an intriguing mix of cultures with its own distinct vibe.  Exploring these early colonial roots is the perfect way to spend a morning in the city and see a different side to the usual shopping experience.

St John’s Cathedral, Garden Road

The tour starts at St.  John’s Cathedral in Central Hong Kong which was completed in 1849 and is the oldest Western Christian Church in Hong Kong.  Built in the 13thCentury English Gothic style that was very popular at that time, the Cathedral was turned into a club for Japanese troops during their occupation of Hong Kong in 1941.  Some of the Cathedral’s original fittings, including the stained glass windows, were ripped out at this time.

Legislative Council Building,Jackson Road

Head north-east to the former home of The Supreme Court, or The Legislative Council Building, as it is now called.  Located at one end of Statue Square, the towering granite construction was built in 1912 and is supported by massive ionic pillars.  Looking down on it is a statue of a blindfolded Themis – the Greek Goddess of Justice and Law, and an identical statue to that outside London’s Old Bailey. 

The Blue House, Stone Nullah Lane

The Blue House is an insight into another side of colonial life.  The 1920s tenement building has, over the years, been home to a martial arts studio as well as many working class families that worked in the local factories.  Now there is a small museum called the Wan Chai Livelihood Museum, dedicated to the way that the inhabitants used to live, and the jobs that they carried out.

Luk Yu Tea House,Stanley Street

Go North-West this time to stop for a cuppa at Luk Yu; a traditional tea house located in the central area of Hong Kong.  Established in 1933, it was originally intended as somewhere Chinese scholars could share ideas.  The first floor of the building is reserved exclusively for the tea houses long-time patrons, who combined with the colonial style of the building and adherence to tradition give the tea house its overall charm.

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