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This green oasis offers a relaxing respite and a history lesson of the neighbourhood

The Kowloon Walled City Park is a beautiful green oasis and a fitting memorial to the notorious labyrinth that used to stand on this small footprint of land in the heart of Kowloon.

The history of the Kowloon Walled City is very much a part of Hong Kong’s folklore and legacy. The site of the city and now the park was used by Chinese officials as far back as the fifteenth century. A military fort was built on the site, and after China ceded Hong Kong to the British in 1841, the area was maintained as part of China’s defensive position. The Qing Government built a Walled City there, surrounded by stone walls, watchtowers, and gates. In 1889, China leased the New Territories to the British for ninety-nine years, except for the Walled City, which remained under the jurisdiction of the Chinese. However, in 1899, the British expelled all the Qing officials and soldiers, leaving the Walled City devoid of law and administration. It then became a semi-lawless squatter slum.

From the 1950s, flats within the Walled City were built up haphazardly and on top of precarious foundations. By the 1980s, the Walled City, with its dangerous multi-story layers of residences, looked like a walled structure. One film crew who went inside noted that “no natural light penetrated the interior corridors of the Walled City, and water dripped and poured from every crevice.”

The design of the park is in the style of a Jiangnan garden. Classical details and authentic architecture were provided by skilled artisans and craftsmen employed from the Mainland. Some relics of the old city remain and are incorporated into the park’s points of interest.

Text & Photos Cammy Yiu