Parks and cultural centers infused with military history
Despite objections from the civilian government, the British military claimed a prime spot of land in the middle of Hong Kong when the British landed in 1841. Over the next several decades, the area now known as Admiralty became a sprawling headquarters for British army and naval operations in East Asia. Today, only a few traces remain.
Hong Kong Park
Built in 1846, Flagstaff House is one of the oldest Western-style buildings in Hong Kong. For many years it was home to the commander of the British forces in Hong Kong. When the military lands were decommissioned in the late 1970s, plans were drawn up to convert the former Victoria Barracks into a park. Hong Kong Park is what was fashioned out of the old barracks. Though most military structures were demolished, a few remain and repurposed into museums, cultural centres and a marriage registry.
Old Barracks revitalized worth a visit!
Hidden inside a gully across from the British consulate is a former explosives magazine compound. Built between the 1850s and 1910s to store munitions, the historic complex was left to rot after World War II and was nearly forgotten when it was leased to the Asia Society, which converted it into a new cultural center.
The Asia Society Hong Kong Center, as the complex is now known, is a mix of restored heritage buildings and remarkable new architecture by Billie Tsien and Tod Williams. The new buildings are connected to the old by a double-decker bridge that zig-zags around palm trees that are home to a colony of fruit bats. Keep an eye out for a collection of 18th and 19th century guns, which were uncovered during construction work. Most are British military guns, but one of them was seized from pirates!