Hong Kong’s oldest buildings
This neoclassical compound dates back to 1880s when it was established as the first land-based headquarters for Hong Kong’s marine police. The main building has since been converted into Hullett House, a boutique hotel, while the stable block, signal tower and old fire station are home to F&B and retail outlets. Many of its original Victorian architecture remains or has been restored – like the time ball tower – which is why you’ll also often find couples there posing for bridal and engagement photo shoots.
Like a page out of a storybook rather than bustling Hong Kong, Cape D’Aguilar provides a picturesque escape from the intensity of the city’s urban environment. The Cape’s lighthouse isn’t just the oldest one of its kind still standing in the SAR, it’s also among the earliest colonial structures to be built here and was completed in 1875. The declared monument and its magnificent ocean views make for a stunning postcard-worthy photograph.
Tea-drinking is an age-old Chinese tradition, so it’s only fitting that one of the oldest buildings in the city is now a museum of tea. According to the Hong Kong Antiquities and Monuments Office, Flagstaff House is the longest surviving western building in Hong Kong. Completed in 1846, it originally served as the office and residence of the commander of British forces in the territory. It later became the Museum of Tea Ware in 1984 and houses exhibitions, demonstrations, tea gatherings and lectures that promote China’s tea drinking culture.
The Hakka were the first settlers in Chai Wan and Law Uk village was one of their first bases. Boasting more than 200 years of history, it’s now the only remaining Hakka village on Hong Kong Island. Since being converted into a museum, visitors can view historical furniture vintage decorations and production tools preserved from back in the day and learn more about traditional Hakka culture.
Accidentally discovered in 1955 during construction work, this declared monument is believed to be a tomb built in the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220), making it officially the oldest structure in Hong Kong. Though the actual tomb is closed to the public for conservation reasons, visitors can still get a pretty clear view of it through a glass panel. Pop over to the exhibition hall next door to see pottery and bronze wares excavated from the tomb and learn more about the history behind the monument.
A three-storey historic colonial building situated on a prime waterfront location, Murray House boasts not only sweeping views of the sea but also an interesting backstory leading up to its home in Stanley. The 160-year-old Victorian structure was originally a barrack built in 1846 in Central and home, over time, to several different government departments. It was later dismantled in the early 1980s, relocated to Stanley, and reassembled in the early 2000s. Now it’s one of Hong Kong’s longest surviving buildings, housing a range of great restaurants and a giant H&M store.
Along a popular trail that takes you past 10 historic landmarks and heritage sites in the Ping Shan area, sits one of the oldest ancestral halls in Hong Kong. Dating back to 1271, the amazingly well-preserved structure features two internal courtyards fronted by two drum platforms. Aside from its historic significance, Tang Ancestral Hall is still the go-to spot for traditional festivals and ceremonies in the area.
Certainly the most talked about openings in Hong Kong of 2018, Tai Kwun has undergone impressive conservation and revitalisation efforts to give us a world-class independent art space and heritage landmark. The former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison site is massive 300,000 sq ft compound built between 1862 and 1925, where it served as a one-stop shop for everything from being arrested and tried in the magistracy to carrying out your sentence in the prisons. While the site has since been repurposed to house art galleries and trendy restaurants, you can spot many distinctive Neoclassical features and Roman-style arches.
When it comes to the oldest surviving structures in Hong Kong, the Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda in Yuen Long is definitely near the top of the list. The pagoda was likely built somewhere around 1368-1398, meaning it’s at least 650 years old – quite a feat in Hong Kong. The hexagonal-shaped structure consists of three-storeys with a grey brick exterior and houses a statue of Fui Shing, a popular deity for those seeking to pass examinations. You can visit the declared monument when travelling along the Ping Shan Heritage Trail.
A traditional Hakka walled-house now preserved as a cultural-heritage museum in Tsuen Wan, Sam Tung Uk was once the home of the Chan clan, a Hakka clan that migrated to Hong Kong during the mid-18th century. With ivory white walls and coal-grey ceramic tiles, the house stands out among the skyscrapers and hustle and bustle of Tsuen Wan. You can check out 12 of the original houses at the museum, as well as a collection of agricultural tools and everyday objects of Hakka village life that are on permanent display.