Hong Kong Heritage and History Tour – past to present
Central and Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
The future meets the past in Hong Kong and nowhere can you see this more clearly than in the Central district. Our guided walking tour takes you past historic buildings nestled amid stunning skyscrapers, where the ancient art of feng shui influences modern architecture, and along streets whose very names evoke the colourful history of Hong Kong.
The heart of Hong Kong city, the Central district, has been developing since the inception of British rule in 1841. Western-style buildings sprang up as the city grew prosperously, and the early 20th century saw Hong Kong develop into a metropolis. Extensive reclamations extending the waterfront and development projects were carried out during different periods and although the outlook of Hong Kong is ever changing, many historical buildings and structures still survive as standing testimony to the history of Hong Kong Island’s Central district.
As we walk we admire architecture from well-known architects such as Lord Norman Foster, IM Pei and Kohn Pedersen Fox, but also structures from unknown builders that shape Hong Kong’s flow and energy, such as the many pedestrian bridges and escalators connecting the different spaces.
In contrast to the impressive architecture of the business district we also visit the smaller scaled streets and buildings around Hollywood Road, where the famous escalator has sparked a trendy mix of galleries, bars, cafes, and small businesses with the occasional traditional tradesman who carved their niches over the centuries.
Highlights of our guided Heritage Walk include:
Statue Square – over which a seated bronze statue of Queen Victoria once reigned. Within the square stands the elegant and modern HSBC – the fourth HSBC building to occupy the site over a period of 150 years. Built in the early 1980s by Lord Norman Foster, it is a fascinating example of how feng shui and modern environmental features have been merged in present-day Hong Kong.
Supreme Court – one of Hong Kong’s last remaining colonial buildings. Built from Kowloon granite in the neoclassical style, this elegant and historic building was built to house the Supreme Court and is now home to the Court of Final Appeal. It is situated on the first stretch of reclaimed land.
The French Mission Building – a building of historic importance in Hong Kong. The present three-storey granite and red bricks building was built in 1917 on the foundation of a previous mansion in which the first Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Henry Pottinger, resided from 1843 to 1846. The building was acquired by the French Mission in 1915 – a name by which it is still commonly referred today. Over the years, it has had several owners, including an American trading house, the Russian consulate, and the Court of Final Appeal.
St John’s Anglican Cathedral – this beautiful Cathedral, built in the shape of a cross, is a survivor of the earliest buildings of the British era, built on the only freehold lease in Hong Kong, and is unchanged since its early days. It is the oldest surviving Western ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong, and the oldest Anglican church in the Far East, with construction completed in 1849. It was declared a monument in 1996.
Hong Kong Park – The former military site has been turned into a lush park, a green oasis for birds and pedestrians alike.
Flagstaff House – Hong Kong Park houses the oldest colonial residence, now the Museum of Tea Ware.
Hong Kong Tram – No better way to sit and watch life on the street. The tramline connects the hubs along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island since 1904. It was built along what was then the shore-line!
The Central-Mid-Levels Escalator – This 800m long convenience added in the 90s increased the property value of not only the mid-level residences but also the streets crossing the escalator, and a new neighborhood, called SoHo, was born.
Hollywood Road – one of the first roads of the former colony, it connects the eastern and western part of Central, geographically as well as culturally.
Tai Kwun – The former Police Station cum Victoria Prison has been renovated to its former glory extended with two new building volumes. It’s amazing courtyard space is now open to the public. As are the former prison cells. The building further houses shops, restaurants and exhibition venues.
PMQ – The former Police Married Quarters residential blocks have been successfully reinvented to house the shops of young creative Hong Kong talents.
Man Mo Temple – This temple is at the heart of the history of the Chinese community of Hong Kong.