Visiting Toucheng old street 逛逛頭城老街

Visiting Toucheng old street 逛逛頭城老街

24th April 2019 0 By livinguktaiwan

I had only one destination in mind when I got off the train at Toucheng station, Hepeng Street, or more commonly known as Toucheng Old Street.  This was another of my day out when I visited Yilan a few months ago.

我很喜歡逛台灣的老街,正如鹿港老街又或是台南整個城市都像一條很大的老街。 年初到宜蘭時,我去了頭城老街。 頭城是清朝時漢人到台灣在東部開墾的第一個據點,所以也有開蘭第一城的稱號。

Toucheng is an old town on the east coast of Taiwan.  Its history dates back to the 17th century when it was occupied briefly by the Spaniards, then the Dutch.  By the 18th the Qing Dynasty from China arrived.  In those days, Toucheng was called 蛤仔難 Há zǐ nán.  This was the first landing point on the island for the Han people from the Qing Dynasty so they renamed it Toucheng.  Tou means head or first, and Cheng means city.  Toucheng’s rich historical and cultural past has left its mark on the town making it an interesting area to visit.


Toucheng Old Street is about five minutes walk away from the station. It isn’t very long, only about 500m stretching north to south, but there is a lot of interesting buildings along the street.  Much of the buildings were built during the Qing dynasty.  Later when Taiwan was occupied by the Japanese, they added some western-Japanese touch to some of the buildings.  This style of architecture was quite popular in those days.  I must have spent a good couple of hours wandering along this short stretch of road. And I even came back after dinner to see the night view.  Today, I’m going to start my journey from the north end of the street.

頭城老街離開火車站很近,步行五分鐘就到。 老街全長大概500米,從北到南, 保留了不少老宅和建築。 有一部分是清朝建的閩南式房子, 到日治時代又建了些和洋式, 最後就是台式建築物。


This part of the street is a mix bag.  The first couple of buildings I saw had been converted to little restaurants.  I loved how they kept the exterior character, especially the doors and windows.  As is common in many alleyways in Taiwan, there was some street art on the side of one building.  The drawings depicted the daily life, including the famous (or infamous?) scooter.

Toucheng Old Street is lined with many interesting buildings.  Their style is a mix of Minnan architecture from the Qing Dynasty, Japanese-western style from the Japanese colonial period, and of course Taiwanese style from the modern era.  This display is a great illustration of the street.

The other interesting thing about this part of the old street is that people still live in some of the houses whilst the house next door is falling to pieces. I wonder what it feels like to life on such a famous street but next to a derelict building?


Toucheng used to be located right next to the harbour, hence attracting the Spaniards, Dutch and eventually the Qing dynasty from China.  It was a convenient port to transport goods in and out of the island.  At the end of the Toucheng Old Street north section, is Shisanhang.  Shisanhang means thirteen firms and was built during the Qing Dynasty.  It originally included a terrace of houses and was used to store goods before they were distributed onwards.  Later on during the Japanese colonial days, two of the houses were occupied by the a Mr Kang. He was a prominent artist, calligrapher, poet and musician. Apart from these two house, most of Shisanhang have fallen into derelict over the years. This is one of those houses and the other one is on the right hand side, both are now designated as listed buildings.

今次我先從頭城老街北面開始逛。 最北端是十三行街屋當年用作倉庫。 到日治時期,有蘭陽第一筆之稱的康氏遷入了其中兩間屋在。 現在十三行街屋大部分已破舊不堪,唯有康氏居住哪兩家保存得較為完整, 更被立定為古蹟。


Moving back towards the middle section of the old street is the Lu Zuan Xian Mansion.   During the Qing dynasty, the Lu family was the wealthiest family in the area.  They owned Shisanhang as well.  There’s a local saying, “You may have Lu’s residence, but you don’t have their wealth.  If you have their wealth, you don’t have their residence.”  This is a reflection of their social standing and status in those days.

The Lu mansion was built in 1926.  It’s architecture is a blend of Taiwanese, Japanese and western style, and is a stark contrast to Shisanhang.   From the photo, this may just seem like a normal nice house.  Yet when I first saw it on Toucheng old street, is was definitely a stand above the crowd.  It just stood out from the rest of the buildings.

十三行街屋旁邊是盧纘祥古居。 盧氏是宜蘭首富,《有盧家厝,無盧家富;有盧家富,無盧家厝》 就是當地人形容盧家的富裕財力 。盧宅建於1926年,前面有一個史雲湖,以前是內港, 在1928年被盧氏改建為庭園。

And that’s not just it.  This is the view in front of the mansion.

There was a gentlemen tendering a small garden in front of the mansion and he told me a bit about this area.  Back in the old days, the port used to be a bit further out where these buildings are.  That’s why Shinsanhang was located nearby.  Toucheng old street was the centre of economic activity.  Later on, the development of the railway system coupled with a typhoon in 1924 which cause the massive flooding of the port, the economic activity gradually shifted away from this area.

After Lu built his mansion, he converted the port to a lake in 1928 and used it as an open garden and for entertaining guests.    The gentlemen told me that I could walk around the lake to the other side and the view looking back was much better.  It sure was.  I could literally imagine what the view would be like back in those days without the tall buildings and modern vehicles around it.

Next time I’ll take you to the southern end of Toucheng old street.  We’ll visit a literature alleyway, a community shop and  two rows of traditional shops built during the Japanese colonial days.  Oh, I nearly forgot, we’ll take a look at Toucheng Old Street at night time. I hope you will join me for the next part of my journey through the 200 year time tunnel.

短短半條頭城老街不足幾百米,但我已逛了不少時間。下次我會帶大家到頭城老街南端, 希望大家繼續和我一起走這條二百年的時光隧道。