Had we not already been to the Forbidden City and many other wealthy family gardens in China, for once we would thought we had entered another Emperor’s garden when we visited Lin Family Mansion and Garden in Taipei.
Why should you visit this place?
When someone is living in a place containing the size of almost 2 modern European football fields, you wouldn’t want to miss this master piece! To be exact, the space is 20,000 square meters or 4.9 acres.
When construction started in 1853 and took almost 40 years to complete, perhaps only the Forbidden City could rival it. Would you come?
You got to visit this place! You have to come!
Though named as one of the 4 Great Gardens of Taiwan(台灣四大名園), to be frank, Lin Family Mansion and Garden is not a very popular attractions, but once you get inside the garden, you would be wondering: What he did to make him so fifty rich?
The grand history of how this family made its fortune was told in 2 gigantic boards.
It was said that an ancestor of the Lin Ben Yuan family came to Taiwan in 1778. His son Lin Pinghou (林平侯) came afterwards and started selling rice. It was through the sale of rice that they made their first fortune and gradually expanded to almost all trades such as banking, shipping, tea and salt trading etc.
The other showcases the many contributions the Lin Family made to the society. So this garden is not just about how wealthy they are, but what they did to help the society with their vast wealth.
For those who had come, congratulations, you had just discovered a historical national treasure! For those who gave the attraction a miss has probably lost the opportunity to visit the billionaire of the old days.
The main reason for me to visit this place is we wanted to see how a traditional Chinese mansion actually looks like, compare to those mock structure often shown in Chinese movie and TV drama. The other reason is this Lin Family Mansion and Garden has a history of nearly 200 years old, something so rich in history certainly warrant some of our attention.
The eagerness to see the place was so compelling that we came twice! Our first visit saw a closed door mansion, as Taipei was experiencing Typhoon, most attractions had closed.
Two days later, the wheather was clear and good, this time I spent nearly 2 hours here, admiring with envy: If only I could stay here forever……
How big is Lin Family Mansion? The exterior long wall of Lin Garden was impressive enough to win admiration. Even today, not many millionaire could afford such luxury of space.
The interior is as impressive as the exterior. Long walkway and corridors which stretches above 50 metres are seen in many parts of the Garden.
The many long corridors are a displayed of wealth of which the commoners can only dream of.
Enter the Garden, a vast garden instantly set the majestic grandeur scene for the mansion. More has yet to come!
There are 2 large man-made ponds in the garden. But what makes the place interesting is the few pavilions sitting around it, some are shaped in triangle, square, octagon etc. Get into anyone of it and relax yourself.
It was said that the Lin Family donated the rights of the garden to Taipei government in 1977. Restoration works started in 1982 and took 4 years to complete. A total of NT$156 million was spent.
It’s interesting to see how the rich lead their life when you do your walkabout. See the composition of trees, flowers, pond and buildings being unfold as you explore further into the garden.
Often seen in Chinese TV drama/ movie that the characters play around a so called artificial mountain, now I finally got to see the real one :
Traditional Chinese houses has a custom of creating fences and walls to demarcate the functions of each area. It also serves the purpose of not allowing visitors to see all things in just a glance, thereby creating some curiosity. In Lin Family Mansion and Garden this concept is particularly evident.
The best thing about this garden is in every corner or upon passing every walls, there is always something that excites visitor, no scenery or building is repeated, it keeps visitor wondering what’s next?
Beside the The Lin Family Mansion and Garden, the other 3 Great Gardens in Taiwan is Tainan Wu Garden(台南吳園), Wufeng Lin Family Mansion (霧峰林家宅園) and Garden and Hsinchu Beiguo Garden (新竹北郭園).
There are just so many things to see, many of which I could not comprehend its cultural values and importance, except standing in awe. This is seeing traditional artwork comes alive instead of merely seeing them through glass panel in a museum, every bit is a treasure.
4 months after the first visit, I returned for the 3rd visit. I wanted to see the mansion by night. During November, darkness falls early on Taipei. It was just 4pm then but it looks like 8pm at night.
Due to darkness, many places were being cordoned off for safety issue. I was so disappointed!
But I was satisfied to have found the souvenir shop and get a hand on those books and video about the mansion which enthralled me much.
How to go to Lin Family Mansion and Garden?
Take the Blue Line Train and alight at Fuzhong station. Take a 10 minutes walk to Lin Family Mansion and Garden, it is along the main road, so it is not hard to locate the place. We walked there on our first visit but decided to take a taxi there from Fuzhong Station, it cost just US$3, value for money for a group of people. Admission to the garden is free and opening hours is 9am-5pm.