Keelung Passageway 百年防空洞

I found myself in the seedy port town of Keelung 基隆 near the end of my round-the-island bicycle tour of Taiwan 台灣 in 2013. Later on, after dinner was done, I went out wandering the labyrinth of night—and, on the far side of Sānkēng Station 三坑車站 and the railway line, I noticed the entrance to a small tunnel punched into the hillside.

Curious, I hunched down and made my way through. To give a sense of scale, standing upright my head just grazed the ceiling. A minute later I emerged on the other side, somewhat disoriented, though I quickly gained my bearings. It seemed like a peculiar way to connect two hillside neighbourhoods, a novel method of transportation uncommon in my experience.

Much later on I returned to this mysterious passageway armed with slightly more knowledge and understanding of Chinese. At this point I noticed a plaque over the southern entrance entitled 100 Year Bomb Shelter 百年防空洞. Turns out this peculiar feature of Keelung’s rugged urban landscape dates back to Japanese times, having been constructed in 1903. It served as both an air raid shelter and an ammunition depot over the years and was only recently transformed into a minor tourist attraction and quirky pedestrian shortcut.

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  1. Oh, cool! Mystery tunnel.

    Is it fairly common for these types of tunnels to exist to connect just a neighborhood or two? Trying to think of anything analogous here in North America, but it doesn’t seem common anywhere I’ve lived.

  2. No, I haven’t seen many tunnels like this one in Taiwan. Most hillside communities just use stairs. There are plenty of pedestrian underpasses and overpasses in the cities… but I haven’t seen any that have been cut through the hills just for pedestrian traffic.

  3. If you go up the hills behind Keelung you can find forts built around the same time. I believe they were built due to the Russian Japanese war which happened around that time and which Japan won.

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