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Gulangyu colonial architecture
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Gulangyu colonial architecture

Xiamen or Amoy is a small town ( in Chinese terms, since it has more than two and a half million inhabitants) overlooking the Straits of Taiwan, and thanks to the advantageous geographical position has always been an important trading port.

Related articles: images of Xiamen, The architecure of Gulangyu, The Ancient Earthen Castles in Tulou

Today, despite its modest size, is a cosmopolitan town that has jealously preserved its multi-ethnic past that you can clearly observe in the exotic mix of European, Chinese, and Japanese architecture. Gulangyu is a small island in front of Xiamen. The British established their first concession in Gulangyu in 1851, the Japanese and the Americans in 1900, took into account the possibility of turning them into a naval base but changed their minds after the conquest of the Philippines in 1899. However, a foreign power after another began to open consulates and trade offices in Xiamen.

In 1902 was elected a city council composed of six representatives of foreigners and Chinese. Fourteen nations opened representative offices, including Germany, France, Denmark, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, and the Philippines. Today, Gulangyu is a lovely island with a vaguely Mediterranean climate and a varied colonial architecture that can count on more than 1000 buildings of Western origin. Since the small island of Gulangyu applies a strict ban on cars and bikes, the only sounds you hear are those of the wind, the trees, and pianos ( and organs). In fact, the island holds a special record for the most number of pianos per capita.

Images of Gulangyu, Xiamen

Gulangyu colonial architecture
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Photos: Matteo Damiani

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