Besides its natural beauty and amazing military tunnels, another striking feature ofÂ Â TaiwanÂ ‘s Matsu Archipelago is its traditional stone house villages. Among them are Qinbi Village (è¹å£èè½) in Beigan (åç«¿), Jinsha Village (æ´¥æ²èè½) in Nangan (åç«¿), and Fuzheng Village (ç¦æ£èè½), as well as Dapu Village (å¤§åèè½), in Dongju (æ±è).
Traditional stone houses in these villages were mainly constructed in the Mindong architectural style (é©æ±å»ºç¯ eastern Fujian-style) in the 1800sÂ and 1900s with local yellow granite blocks or blue limestone blocks from China.
Please watch the following video of the eastern Fujian-style old houses in Taiwan’s Matsu Archipelago.
Since these compact dwellings were constructed in the form of a square that resembles a Chinese seal or chop, they are often referred to as âchop buildingsâ (ä¸é¡å°å¼å»ºç¯).
The walls of the stone houses were built in different layouts, some in pattern layouts, while others are in a random layout (äºç³ç ). The most commonly seen patterns are the parallel pattern (å·¥åç ) and herringbone pattern (äººåç ). The stone houses built in parallel and herringbone patterns were lived in by rather wealthy people, as the construction costÂ was higher, and those in a random layout were lived in by average people, as they are relatively inexpensive.
With a gable roof atop two inclines, stone houses in Matsu are also characterized by high and small windows because itâs very windy and cold during the monsoon season in winter, and pirates were active in that region in old times.
The red tiles on the roofs in Matsu are covered with rock blocks to prevent them from being blown off. Since the ventilation of the stone houses is rather good, they are referred to as âhouses that breathe (æå¼å¸çæ¿å).â Nowadays, the booming development of the tourism industry, coupled with subsidies from the government, has contributed to the restoration and renovation of dilapidated stone houses in Matsu in recent years. Many of them have turned into restaurants, guesthouses or cafÃ©s.
In addition to various types of old signage on the walls of the traditional stone houses, it is even more surprising that slogans against the Chinese Communist regime set up during the military administration can still be spotted on every corner in Matsu.
Take for instance âKill Zhu De and Eradicate Mao Zedong (æ®ºæ±ææ¯),â âOppose Communism and Fight Soviet Russia (åå ±æä¿),â âLitigate Against Communist Spies (æª¢è åªè«),â âRecover the Mainland (å å¾©å¤§é¸),â âCivil-Military Cooperation (è»æ°åä½),â âSave the Compatriots in Mainland (è§£æå¤§é¸åè),â etc. These slogans are evident testaments to Matsu Islandsâ history and reminiscences of decades-long tensions between Taiwan and China.
Qinbi Village (è¹å£èè½) in Beigan is the most iconic traditional stone house village in Matsu. Perched along a steep hill slope facing the sea with Turtle Island near the shore, stone houses there are well preserved. With a touch of laid back Mediterranean atmosphere, Qinbi is called a âMediterranean town on the Taiwan Straits.â Itâs pleasant to stroll around and has light meals or a cup of coffee at a cozy cafÃ©/restaurant there.
Jinsha Village (æ´¥æ²èè½) was once the second-largest village on Nangan, which is also a nice place to visit. Since the adjacent beach is covered by golden sand, the village was thus named Jinsha (éæ²), but the first character of its Chinese name has been changed to another character with the same pronunciation.
Some traditional stone houses in narrow alleys have transformed into guesthouses and local delicacy shops. There are manyÂ abandoned houses on the east side of the village, as many villagers started to leave and seek a better life in mainland Taiwan in the 1970s.
Just behind a nice beach and close to Dongquan Lighthouse and Mysterious Little Bay (ç¥ç§å°æµ·å½), Fuzheng Village (ç¦æ£èè½) was once the most prosperous fishing villages on Dongju (æ±è). Though its original vitality faded after residents moved elsewhere due to the fishery decline, many old stones houses have been restored in recent years.
Dapu Village (å¤§åèè½) was the second largest village on Dongju. Dapu was once a busy harbor crowded with fishing boats mainly for catching yellow croaker (é»é), which is a very popular fish among people in Taiwan and China. This abandoned village has experienced a rebirth in recent years as some old stone houses have been turned into cozy guesthouses with a nice view of the ocean and the beautiful old harbor.
There are some classic eastern Fujian-style houses on Xiju (è¥¿è). Most of them were built with local rocks and wood imported from Chinaâs Fuzhou. It is a pity that many traditional stone houses with classic beauty have not been restored. However, itâs still one of the good places to witness stone walls constructed in different pattern layouts in Matsu.