Tourists can spend some time in prison cells

TAIPEI, Taiwan - As one of a very few historical sites in Taiwan that was built with thick defensive walls, the red-brick Fort San Domingo in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District has always been a must

Tourists can spend some time in prison cells

TAIPEI, Taiwan – As one of a very few historical sites in Taiwan that was built with thick defensive walls, the red-brick Fort San Domingo in New Taipei City’s Tamsui District has always been a must-see tourist attraction.

However, only tourists visiting the 385-year-old square fort tomorrow and on International Museum Day on Sunday will be offered a rare chance to experience what it was like to be imprisoned in its dungeon.

The fort was designated a first-class monument in 1983, three years after it was returned to the government after being owned by seven different nations — Spain, the Netherlands, China, the UK, Japan, the US and Australia.

Built by the Spanish in 1628 and rebuilt by the Dutch in 1642, it has served as a military fort, a consulate for 38 diplomats and a private residence.

“The fort was originally a two-story structure, but when the British took control of the building in the 1860s they renovated the first floor into four prison cells to jail Britons who broke the law in Taiwan at the time,” according to the current administrator of the historical site, the Tamsui Historical Museum.

The doors to the cells are made of wood and each have a bean slot through which food could be delivered to the inmates, the museum said, adding that the cells are rather dim because the only source of light is a small iron-barred window.

The museum said tourists who visit the fort at the weekend would be able to enjoy a guided tour by museum staff wearing prison-guard outfits.

“They will be able to spend some time in the cells and take a stroll around a yard where the prisoners used to take some exercise,” the museum said.

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