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About The Park

Since 1980, nine national parks have been respectively established, which as a whole serves significant efforts of Taiwan Government in raising public awareness of land ethics. While these parks have preserved much of the essence of Taiwan’s natural and cultural values, the establishment of Kinmen National Park, a milestone that stands for an advanced effort, further placed an increasing emphasis on cultural heritage preservation; it expands Taiwan’s national park system into a grander dimension.

Kinmen National Park Map & Guide ► Kinmen National Park Map & Guide

We wish this book guides you well during your visit to Kinmen National Park, and, by presenting a comprehensive overview, offers you an extensive experience and facilitates the understanding of our Park. With this guide book, we hope both residents and visitors would be able to carry on an intimate conversation with this island. We believe you will have fond memories and great impressions of Kinmen, and therefore Kinmen’s historic heritage and its ecological and environmental assets could show their inestimable values and be well cherished.

Kinmen National Park ► Kinmen National Park


Kinmen Island is an island off southeast shore of China and out on the estuary of Jiulong River (九龍江), China. With the latitude similar as Taichung City (台中市), Taiwan, Kinmen (13,425 hectares) is 10 kilometers east of Xiamen Harbor (廈門港), China, and 227 kilometers west of Taiwan Island.
Kinmen National Park spans the center and parts of the northeast, northwest and southwest corner of Kinmen Island, and also round-the-island tank roads and the surrounding of Lieyu Island (also known as Little Kinmen). The area of the park is almost equivalent to one fourth of the total Greater Kinmen. The3,528-hectare national park is divided into five separate parks — Taiwu Mountain, Guningtou, Gugang, Mashan and Lieyu.

Jhongshanlin Visitor Center ► Jhongshanlin Visitor Center

With a sense of purpose for preservation, research study and enjoyment, under the twelfth article of the National Park Act, Kinmen National Park is divided into areas based on four characteristics — significant scenic area, historic area, recreational area, and existing use area. The classification targets efforts at designing suitable conservation plans for each area, in order to well preserve each unique characters of Kinmen.
Although Kinmen is an island, it is close to the mainland. This means that its flora and fauna aer also similar to those on the continent. However, compared to Taiwan’s other small islands, Kinmen has many species of flora and fauna that cannot be found on Taiwan proper. There are more than 690 native species on Kinmen, including many not seen on Taiwan, such as the soft bollygum tree(Litsea glutinosa), the Chinese sumac (Strophanthus divaricatus). With regards to birds, many species easily seen on Kinmen are very rare on Taiwan or not found there at all. These include the greater coucal (Centropus sinensis), the striped kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti) and the fork-tailed sunbird (Aethopyga christinae), of which there are on record sightings on Taiwan.

Because Kinmen’s environment is well protected, and because it is located in a position of convergence, organisms with a strong dispersal ability can easily appear there. This gives the island a relatively rich variety of different species. Kinmen’s position between the tropical zone to its south and the temperate zone to its north means that the island has quintessential tropical organisms such as bee-eaters (Meropidae) and sunbirds (Aehtopyga), as well as species typically found in cooler or temperate areas, including loons (Gavidae) and swan geese (Anser cygnoides). On the east-west axis, Kinmen also lies between the world’s largest ocean and its largest continent. This means that the island not only has both classic marine organisms such as short-tailed albatrosses (Diomedea albatrus) and frigatebirds(Fregata), but also has continental species like the common magpie (Pica pica) and collared crow (Corvus torquatus). In addition to this, the eastern coastal edge of the Asian continent is an important migration route for birds. Kinmen’s location in the south-eastern littoral of the continent therefore means that many species of migratory bird pass through the island or spend the winter there.
The coastal area of Fujian and Guangdong provinces is narrow and densely populated, and the natural environment protection in the coastal area is fairly poor, but Kinmen’s status as a battleground has allowed the island to enjoy “accidental” protection, turning it into a paradise for plants and animals. Thanks to the Kinmen National Parks Management Office’s 20-plus years of effort, in-depth and wide-ranging surveys have been conducted into the island’s biodiversity. This effort has ensured that, within the Fujian coastal region, Kinmen is the area whose flora and fauna have been most thoroughly researched. It has also helped retain a beautiful habitat and environment for the coastal region’s living creatures.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater ► Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Horseshoe Crab ► Horseshoe Crab

Kinmen National Park is small in area. The long history of human settlement leads to the lack of large-size wild animals. Located off the costal reign of the mainland China, Kinmen becomes a temporary home for many birds in their migrating journey to south. Fauna other than birds, the most distinctive species among mammals is Eurasian otter while horseshoe crab is representative for regional coastal creatures.
Birds are the richest and most characteristic form of fauna in Kinmen National Park. With diverse habitats and low population and located on migration flyway for birds from Southeast Asia, a high number of species and species diversity is observed in Kinmen. Today, there are over 300 bird species that occurs in Kinmen, including resident and migratory. Among them, 74 percent are migratory birds, including winter visitors, summer visitors and passage birds, which outnumber resident birds (13 percent) and stray birds (13 percent) by large. Every year from end of autumn till spring of the next year large numbers of shorebirds including geese, cormorant, birds of the gull and plover habitat in Ci Lake(慈湖), Jinsha Reservoir(金沙水庫)and Lingshui Lake(陵水湖)areas, forming a thrilling spectacle. Other distinct types of birds, mostly different from those commonly seen in Taiwan, such as Common Crow-Pheasants, Magpie Robins, White-throated Kingfishers, Lesser pied Kingfishers, Black-shouldered Kites, Blue-tailed beeBee-eaters, Koels, and Oystercatchers have attracted flocks of bird-lovers annually.

Spot-billed Duck ► Spot-billed Duck
Chinese Pond-Heron ► Chinese Pond-Heron

According to historical records, Kinmen was originally a thickly forested island. Combined with the repeated wars and chaos, this turned Kinmen into a barren land.
In 1949 the Republic of China Armed Forces entered Kinmen,  their need to create shelter, shisld against the wind and stabilize sand dunes, they began actively planting trees.

Oenothera Drumnondii Hook ► Oenothera Drumnondii Hook
Melastoma candidum D.Don ► Melastoma candidum D.Don
Erythrina variegate L ► Erythrina variegate L

Influenced by the local precipitation, temperature and geological environment, the native vegetation has several characteristics:
1. Kinmen region is of semi-arid climate. There aren’t many types of ligneous plants. Plants are mostly short, vined plants are sporadic, and the epiphytes are rare.
2. With small amount of rain in the winter. There are many types of deciduous trees. They should adapt to dry environments.
3. Granite hills have large areas. There are many types of rocks.
4. There are many wetlands, with diverse varieties of wetland plants.

Shanhou ► Shanhou

The archeological study on the site of Fuguodun(復國墩) indicates the first inhabitant in Kinmen dates back to 5800 to 8000 years ago. The inhabitant lived by food-gathering, hunting and fishing. The excavated relics also suggests a connection of Fuguodun heritage in the southeastern coast of China with the Dabenkeng(大坌坑) Culture of Taiwan, both of which belong to ancestral archetype of the South Island ethnic group .
During the Jianwu(建武) Reign of the Yuan Emperor, Eastern Jin(東晉) Dynasty (A.D. 317), social turmoils was caused by Wu Hu uprising (五胡亂華) in the Central Plains of China, with military invasions of nomadic tribes. Six extended families  sought refuge in south and settled in Kinmen, which was called Wuzhou(浯洲). Until Supervisor-General of Royal Equines (牧馬監 mumajian) Chen Yuan(陳淵), during the Zhenyuan(貞元) Reign of Tang Dynasty (A.D. 803), led another twelve extended families with cultivation force to Wuzhou , the island then sustained a steady population growth. During the Shenzong(神宗) Reign (A.D. 1068-85) of the Northern Song Dynasty, Wuzhou was at last integrated into a regional administrative district, Tongan(同安) County  . It is said, under the following regime, Song Dynasty Confucian scholar Zhuxi   (朱熹) established YanNan Academy (燕南書院) and gave lectures on the essence of humanism and decorum , which gave Wuzhou a name as Hai Bin Zou Lu(海濱鄒魯), the costal academic center. In A.D. 1297, the first year of the Chengzong Emperor(成宗) of Yuan Dynasty, Wuzhou Salt Field was planted on the island and supplied salt to the inland of China .

Jinmencheng Ancient Ming Street ► Jinmencheng Ancient Ming Street
Stable Master's Shrine ► Stable Master's Shrine
Qionglin ► Qionglin
Mansion House ► Mansion House

In the beginning of Ming Dynasty, pirates were plundering along the southeast coast of China. At a pivotal location, Kinmen took on a particular significance as a military stronghold against the marauding raiders. In 1387 (the twentieth year of Hongwu [洪武] Reign of Taizu Emperor[太祖], Ming Dynasty), Jiangxia Marquis(江夏候) Jhou Dexing(周德興)built fortresses and defense structures on the island, in order to protect the residents. Kinmen’s geo-strategic advantage obtained itself a name as “a golden force that guards at the gate of southern waters,” which is the literal translation of the name “Kinmen” from Chinese (Golden Gate). Its military importance continued through the Ming Dynasty into the Qing Dynasty. Cheng-gong Zheng (鄭成功 also known as Koxinga ) chose Kinmen and Xiamen Islands as the bases of his plan in the 1640s to reclaim the throne of Qing and re-establish Ming Regime while an independent Naval force of the Qing Empire later was garrisoned in Kinmen after the failure of Zheng.

An apotropaion to ward off evil ► An apotropaion to ward off evil
Traditional Settlement

Since the most immigrants to Kinmen in the early days came from southern Fujian, China - Zhangzhou(漳州)and Quanzhou(泉州), Kinmen’s architectures and customs were similar to theirs. The 40-year military administration hindered the progress of urbanization in Kinmen, which had accidentally preserved its cultural traits. Kinmen now enjoys the rich cultural assets from its traditions.
Kinmen’s residential communnity was built out of practical concern. At the beginning, the immigrants chiefly considered an easy water access and a warm location from the wind; therefore, the majority of the villages were built as lower in the front and higher at the back, facing the water and backs to the mountain or hills. The houses in this communal cluster all have the same arrangement, facing toward the same direction; the unique pattern of such conformity is labeled in Chinese as “Combs Layout”.
Each old-style residential community in Kinmen has its own social and public order, especially since the villagers mostly have the same family name. There is a major ancestral shrine built in the center of each traditional community; the minor shrine, in contrast, is the center of each sector of the village (jiatou(甲頭) in Chinese). This traditional hierarchy puts an emphasis on patriarchal ethics, with which the family-village can achieve a social unity (as a family). Through rituals and activities, family (social) values are carried over to the next generation. Srine Festivals are conducted by the respected elders of the clan in every spring and autumn, praying to ancestors for blessings on the offspring and the descendents to come. These rituals serve as the occasions for community gathering, and cultivate the kinship of the clan. Architecturally, these shrines were built according to the southern Fujian traditions. They are usually of two compartments and bigger than regular residential buildings. On the ridge of the roof, there sits ceramic dragon ornaments (or longyin[龍隱]in Chinese) upright as a peculiar signifier of shrine architecture.

Celebrating Chenghuang Lord’s Birthday ► Celebrating Chenghuang Lord’s Birthday

Remarkably, religious activities take place with a particularly high frequency in Kinmen owing to harsh life conditions confronted by the locals. With so many difficulties and warfare-ridden land, the Kinmenese, out of reverence and need of consolation, turn to spirituality and accentuate religious practice. The Grand Rituals of a temple, or zuojiao(作醮), of each village in particular has an eminent influence on the lifestyle and rules of conduct of local residents. At annual Grand Rituals, participants march in procession around the village to “settle the five cardinal points”. Interestingly, the ritual defines not only the area protected by supernatural power but, ultimately, the boundary of a village. As opposed to single-family-name villages, towns composed of residents of different surnames are usually constituted near seaports and harbors, centers of commerce and settlements of military and defensive purposes. Given the diversity of family origins, villagers  in multiple-clan towns are able to form a unity through attending same temples.

Elegant traditional architecture

Multi-clans usually reside in a harbor、flourishing business town or military defense stronghold.Different clans become one living community by worshipping same village shrines.
Not grand in scale, traditional residential houses in Kinmen are featured with three-side and four-side enclosure. Based on this basic structure- heyuan(合院) in Chinese, modifications are made for specific sites and needs. These site-specific adaptations at length contribute to unique architectural characteristics exclusive of the region. In the same vein of South Fujian  tradition, architecture in Kinmen demonstrates an original beauty of decency and tranquility, representing a high aesthetic achievement.

Four-side enclosure ► Four-side enclosure
Three-side enclosure ► Three-side enclosure
Wood Sculpture ► Wood Sculpture
Shanhou ► Shanhou

Also worth mentioning is the use of construction materials. Bricks, tiles and stones are widely employed while wood is not uncommon. In the old days, a majority of materials came from Fujian Province; in particular Quanzhou white stone and Fuzhou cedar. In contrast, granite found locally, yellow and rougher in texture, are lower in price. Among all, bricks, stones and tiles are of peculiar versatility in making of mural embellishment. Combined use of these materials enables a rich body of patterns such as plain or douzi stone laying(斗子砌), tripartite-material laying, and stone-inlayed brickworks, many of which even depict metaphorical objects and images such as gourds and double happiness. Supporting the diversity of materials and patterns are techniques inclusive of brick engraving, clay sculpture, woodcarving, Koji pottery(交阯陶) and painting. Particularly, eminent decorative elements can be found on roof ridge and the frieze, or etou(鵝頭), under the swallowtail ridge, speaking of another characteristic of Kinmen’s architecture.

Qionglin Wind Lion God ► Qionglin Wind Lion God
Beishan Wind Lion God ► Beishan Wind Lion God


Shanhou Wind Lion God ► Shanhou Wind Lion God

In Kinmen, apotropaic items are commonly installed in daily surroundings. This can be explained as an immediate response to a combined aguish of the locals against environmental severity and war-related devastation. The most eminent type of talisman may be the beast-like statue, what-called Wind Lion God, or fengshiye(風獅爺), which are erected around the boarder of a village or at mouths of rivers. They are believed to hold special power that can avert evil and bring good fortunes to inhabitants of an entire village. On the contrary, talismans found in residential dwellings almost all have one major purpose, that is, to ward off wicked spirits. Accordingly, talismanic mirrors are hung high on the house front; ceramic general figures, censers and roosters stand upright on the roof; inscribed stones are inlaid onto the wall--all in all only to ensure a meticulous system of security.


Architecture with a blending of Chinese traditional style with foreign fashion

Kinmen during the period between mid-19th century and the 1930s experienced a large-scale expatriation among the younger generation. Young expatriates traveled through Xiamen and found opportunities in Southeast Asian countries and Japan. Typically working as laborers, they wire part of their income back to help better off life in their remote homeland. A large portion of their financial contribution went to school construction, clan shrines building and renovation of family houses. Therefore, architectural projects realized on such oversea funds peculiarly gained a foreign influence, creating a number of architectures with much exotic design. Built upon Southern Fukien traditions, houses constructed during the heyday of emigration now become one of the most eminent features of Kinmen’s landscape.

Shuitou Deyue Tower ► Shuitou Deyue Tower

Battlefield Monuments

    Past military conflicts in Kinmen, the one-time frontline in defense of the main land of Taiwan and Penghu Archipelago, leave the Island much evidence of it. Defensive facilities and after-war memorials scattered around the island virtually turned the small land into a battlefield space, silently speaking of the pivotal role it once played; meanwhile they now serve as convincing monuments powerfully pleading world peacefulness.



Beishan Old Western Style House ► Beishan Old Western Style House
Guningtou Battle Museum ► Guningtou Battle Museum
The Guningtou Battle

Kinmen, an arcadian island isolated in the middle of the sea, was turned into a frontline just overnight. After defeating Xiamen on October 17th, 1949, military force of the Communist China  soon targeted Kinmen Island, where the Nationalists have set up garrisons under the command of General Tang En-bo (湯恩伯), as the immediate subject of conquest, a convenient middle place for the ultimate vanquishing of Taiwan and Penhu. On October 25th of the same year the Communist army struck Kinmen from the shore of Guningtou. Although the conflict lasted only 56 hours, less than three days, the damage was astonishing big. Lives lost and landscape ravaged. Among all, the Beishan Old Western Style House in Guningtou, the heart of the fight, documented the devastation in its ruined structure and traces of clash. It now becomes the best witness of the battle during the time, which turned the entire Island of Kinmen into a defensive site in the following decades, ensuring the security and development of Taiwan.

The August 23rd Artillery Battle

In the aftermath of World War II the former Soviet Union-led Communist International showed a strong ambition to communize the world. To obstruct such an aim, the United States joined a number of West Pacific countries, signing agreements to form a defense line on the Pacific Ocean. In 1954, Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty was signed between the US and Taiwan. From then on, the US became an official military support of Taiwan in assurance of its safety, which was particularly jeopardized after Korean War ended in 1953 for the Communist China focused exclusively on the Taiwan issue at the time. Interestingly, the Treaty of 1954 specified only Taiwan and Pescadores as its subjects of protection, leaving the actual frontline Kinmen and Matsu defenseless. However, China recognized the strategic importance of the two islands and had long tried to put them under its sovereignty. Without the promising support in defending the outer islands of Taiwan only made Kinmen more vulnerable to potential military act of China. Finally in the year of 1958, while a formation of a joint military force of British and US arrived in Lebanon in response to Anti-Western Campaign of Arabic League in the Middle East, which was enticed by the Soviet Union, the PRC communists created strait crisis by initiated large scale artillery, which was a decision made by its leadership to stabilize the widespread discontent from the public raised by Mao’s revolutionary Great Leap Forward from the public. Under the premise, it was therefore believed a crisis in Taiwan area would make a successful distraction to shatter a concentrated military support from the US. On August 23rd, 1958, such a tactic was realized, China communists started shelling Kinmen for 44 days, which was later called the August 23rd Artillery Battle. In this bombardment , China aimed not only to destroy military bases in Kinmen, but to paralyze the Island by cutting off supplies from Taiwan by both air and sea. Seeing a difficulty in meeting this goal, China changed its strategy to destabilize the island for the following two decades by continuing arbitrarily shelling on every odd numbered day. The bombardment came to end in 1979 in accordance with the termination of US-Taiwan relationship, summing up approximately a million bombs in total dropped on the land of Kinmen.

August 23rd Artillery Battle Museum ► August 23rd Artillery Battle Museum

An underground world and fortress on the sea
Qingtianting Hall ► Qingtianting Hall

The remote Kinmen Island was at a disadvantage in military conflicts. Luckily, its uplift structure composed of a composition of granite and granite gneiss enables underground construction. Starting from 1956, military stations and posts were first laid out beneath the ground, marking the beginning of the establishment of a subterranean world. Since then, military facilities were progressively moved below ground through out the entire period of the odd-dated bombarding. Canals were built in 1963 in Zhaishan(翟山) and Jiugong(九宮) to facilitate sealift supply. Qingtian Hall(擎天廳) was subsequently constructed in 1962, followed by the accomplishment of the Granite Hospital and the Reception Hall, a tunnel hotel, in 1978. Local residents were busy in constructing air defense basement in or near their houses. From 1976 onwards, a series of projects were aimed to bring a majority of village facilities underground, such as those in Qionglin and Jincheng.
From a battlefield of Nationalist-Communist conflicts to a political arena during Cold War and an isolated military outpost, Kinmen has its significance in the modern history. As flames of war have faded with time, what was left behind, however, are sites and traces of the past, uttering the shattered old times and momeries of historic events.

Zhaishan Tunnel ► Zhaishan Tunnel
Chenggong Fortress ► Chenggong Fortress
Broken glass covered over a hill as a defense facility ► Broken glass covered over a hill as a defense facility
spiny plants also as a defense facility ► spiny plants also as a defense facility