Wufeng Lin Family Mansion and Garden is one of the most fascinating places in all Taiwan.
The mansion was the official residence of the influential and gifted Lin Family of Wufeng. Different members of the Lin family played pivotal roles in several events of Taiwan history of the last 200 years.
Facts about Wufeng Lin Family Mansion and Garden
- Lin Family Mansion is located in Wufeng District, in the southern part of Taichung City.
- It is the largest, most complete and finest traditional compound in all Taiwan.
- The mansion is divided in three main parts: Upper House, Lower House and Laiyuan (Lin Family Gardens).
- The Upper House and Lower House are not only different parts of the mansion, but also identify the two different branches of the Lin Family of Wufeng.
- The Upper and Lower Houses cover an area of 11,000 square meters, and have a perimeter of about one kilometer.
- 921 Earthquake, that hit Central Taiwan on September 21st, 1999, badly damaged the Lin Family Mansion. The complex is being restored with a lot of efforts by the government, scholars and the same Lin Family.
- Be aware that you have to join a guided tour to visit the mansion itself. Tours start by the hour at the ticketing-info kiosk, in front of Gong-Bao-Di (see map at the bottom of this web page).
- Only the Great Flower Hall and Gong-Bao-Di are currently opened to the public. Both the house are in the Lower House section. Members of the Lin Family still live in the rest of their ancestral residence.
- You can visit Lin Family Garden for free instead. The Garden is in the premises of Ming Tai High School, one of the Taichung schools founded by the Lins.
- Lin is a very common Chinese surname. So, don’t get confused, the Lin Family Mansion in Banchiao (close to Taipei) is a different place, built by a family with the same name but no blood connections with the Lins of Wufeng. There are also no blood ties with the Lins of Tanzi.
Wufeng Lin Family Mansion – What to See and Tips
- The entrance fee is 250 NTD, that is quite a high price for Taiwan. Anyway we found the guides very well prepared. You can also arrange an English tour, but you have to book in advance (tel. 04-2331-7985).
- Better to make a phone call on weekends (tel. 04-2331-7985), since the tours could be fully booked. You should not have problems during the week instead: just buy the ticket and wait for the tour to start.
- The tour will start at Gong-Bao-Di (Residence of the Palace Guard). Lin Wencha started to build this part in 1858. The carvings, paintings and calligraphy works at the outer and inner vestibules are of great interest.
- Observe the Fujianese style swallow-tail roofs. Only the temples and the residences of very high officers could boast these elaborate roofs.
- The Great Flower Hall is the most impressive part anyway. The Lower House used it for banquets and performances.
- The lovely stage is unique in Taiwan. Nowadays it is a favorite set for soap operas or just wedding photos. It was originally built in 1890 but it had to be reconstructed after the 921 earthquake. Here the Lin Family staged performances for their guests. Look at the water jars below the stage. They were used to enhance the sound quality and depth. The intricate wooden carving, though not original, is simply exquisite.
- The very formal living room at the front of the stage is of great beauty, too. On the back of the living room, you will find a small exhibition with original wooden carvings and pillars, documents and weapons (the super sized arquebuses are absolutely impressive).
Wufeng Lin Family Garden – What to See and Tips
- The Lin Family Gardens (Laiyuan – 萊園) are at just 5 minutes walk from the mansion. Facing the main entrance, just turn on the right and then turn left, uphill, until you reach the main gate of Mingtai High School. You will also find a free parking, just a few meters below the school main gate, on the right. See also the map below.
- The entrance is free. The school security guard may ask you to leave an ID at the entrance.
- The garden was considered one of the Four Great Gardens of Taiwan.
- Don’t be too excited anyway, the garden, being part of a high school, has obviously changed from 1893, when Lin Wenqin built the garden for his own mother Madame Luo, for her to enjoy the “Ten Views of Laiyuan“.
- Just wander around the garden. The Wugui House (House of Five Osmanthus) is the graceful building facing the lake. From here Madame Luo watched the opera plays staged on Lichee Isle.
- The Lin Family Mausoleum on a small hill is an athmospheric place too.
- Don’t miss the unassuming two stories red modern house (see picture below). On the second floor there is a free exhibition of Lin Family belongings … elegant qipao, pieces of furniture, books … all very interesting.
Who are the Lins of Wufeng?
The docudrama Attabu portrays the rise and pitfalls of the Lins of Wufeng. The production is quite low budget, but you will find the movie quite interesting and intriguing, if you are (as we are) interested in Taiwanese history.
As Khan Lee, the producer of the movie, points out, the Lins, as
the Corleone family in Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy, …. “needed to kill and fight over resources in order to make a place for themselves in a hostile, foreign land.”
During the turmoils in the XIX century, the Lin family fought for the Ching Dinasty and, in doing so, they destroyed their own enemies and achieved a great wealth and power.
The arrive of the Japanese in 1895 put the Lins in a difficult situation, to which different members of the family reacted in different ways. Khan Lee also notes:
“The family always has to make choices – choices to side with the central government or regional forces, to become Japanese or Chinese, to side with Chinese nationalism or communism.”
You can buy Attabu (2 DVDs) in the souvenir shop, located at the Mansion. By the way, Attabu is the aboriginal name of Wufeng.
Have a look at Attabu I trailer below.
How to Get to Lin Family Mansion and Garden
You will find quite easy to reach Wufeng Lin Family Mansion from Taichung with the public transport. The mansion is in Wufeng town center and buses from Taichung are quite frequent.
From Taichung Railway Station take the bus #100 or #281. Stop at Wufeng Post Office (霧峰郵局). Bus #100 is more convenient, it follows a more direct route and is more frequent (a bus every 7-15 minutes). Besides, bus #100 can be also used to reach the (very interesting) Ando Museum at Asia University.
From the Taiwan High Speed Railway Station (THSR) or Chaoma Bus Station, you can take the bus #151 (Direction Wufeng). Alight at Wufeng Post Office stop (霧峰郵局) after about 20 minutes. This bus route is quite convenient as it starts from the City Hall in Taiwan Boulevard and follows the highway. Frequency is not less than a bus every 20-30 minutes.
A taxi ride from Taichung City center to Wufeng may costs about 500 NTD.