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Museum of Architecture, see Europe at Gulangyu Island

Other than its title of the "PianoIsland", Gulangyu is also known as China's Museum of Architecture. Villas and mansions on the island are ornate and add much charm to the satellite island.


For people living in the hustle and bustle of today's metropolis, stroll along the shady serpentine lanes outside the high-walled and imposing red-roofed mansions and villas, you'll seek serenity and see why Gulangyu is charming and internationally renowned.
1). Eight Diagrams House (八卦楼)
The red-roofed and White House-like villa, now used as XiamenMuseum, is one of the landmark buildings in Xiamen. Integrating traditional Doric (陶立克式) and Ionic (爱奥尼克式) architectural styles, the house has become an architectural representative on the island.
It was built in 1907 (the 33rd year of Emperor Kuang Hsu's reign in Qing Dynasty) and designed by American Dutch Dr. John Abraham Otte (郁约翰), who integrated the Pakistani, Chinese, Greek and Italian architectural styles.
The famous house is said to be often haunted by a "ghost" with long hair at the backyard lawn.
2). Golden Melon Villa (jin gua lou金瓜楼)
The villa, built in 1922, got the name after its two golden melon liked attics. It was bought by the Philippine Chinese Mr. Huang Cimin (黄赐敏) in 1924. The Western style villa is decorated with Chinese elements, flower, bird and plant embossment is widely used on its beam columns. The in-house is decorated with a combination of Western and Chinese styles, with Western style fireplace and Chinese style wing-room and living room.
Add: No.99, Quanzhou Road (泉州路)
3). Huang Family Complex (huang jia yuan 黄家园)
The house was the private residence of Mr. Huang Yizhu (黄亦住), a rich Indonesian Chinese in the contemporary times. The complex has 3 houses, of which the middle one is the most gorgeous that was built with 100,000 silver dollars.
What's special is that there is a mirror hung with razors and shaving brush in every room. That's because Mr. Huang led a poor life in his childhood, later he went to Southeast Asia and made for a living as a barber. Later, he turned to develop a cane sugar business and became the 'King of Sugar in Indonesia.' After returning to China, he settled down on GulangyuIsland.
In the 1950s, the house was state guest house of the Xiamen Government. It hosted Teng Xiaoping, US ex-President Nixon and ex-President Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.
Add: No.25, Huangyan Road (晃岩路)
4). Lin House (林屋)
It was built in 1927 by Mr. Lin Quancheng (林全诚), the son of the house owner. The specialty of the house lies in its vertical overlook view of its roof, which employed Northern European architectural style. The villa stands out of the villa complex, appearing sedate and elegant.
Add: No.82, Quanzhou Road
5). Scenic View Villa (guan cai lou 观彩楼)
On the top of Bijia Hill lies a European style villa, which was built in 1931 and designed by a Dutch. Since it looks like a bridal sedan chair and people can see splendid sunset and clouds on the top floor, it's called Scenic View Villa.
Add: No.6, Bishan Road (笔山路)
6). Hi Heaven Villa or Sea & Sky Villa (hai tian tang gou 海天堂构)
It was built in the 1920s by Philippine Chinese Huang Xiuhuoliang (黄秀火良) and his Jinjiang countryman Mr. Huang Nianyi (黄念亿). The symmetrical villa complex is particularly magnificent, with its middle villa decorated with palatial architecture.
Hi Heaven is split into three major sections. The first is the original living area for the family, now also used for the Nanyin Music concerts. The dome under which the musicians perform is quite unusual and not normally found in buildings of this size but indicates that a high ranking official originally lived in the house.
The second area was originally the guest quarters or hotel, but is now used to host the puppet shows. The puppet show is worth seeing. The young puppeteers are highly skilled, spinning plates and throwing batons to one another in well rehearsed synchronized slapstick routines.
The final area is the one that originally provided the concubines with their accommodation but is now used as a café, the Hi Heaven Café.
Add: No.42, Fujian Road
7). Foreign Lady Villa (fan po lou 番婆楼)
The villa was built by Philippine Chinese Mr. Xu Jingquan (许经权) in 1927. Mr. Xu built the villa to reward his mother, who wore gold and silver jewellery and looked like a rich Southeast Asian millionaire woman. That's why the villa is called fan po lou or Foreign Lady Villa.
Today, it's the place where a couple of writers open their Slowly Café.
Add: No.36, Anhai Road (安海路)
8). Octagonal Villa (八角楼)
The villa was built in 1915 by Lin Erjia (林尔嘉) or Lin Shuzhuang (林菽庄), who is also the owner of ShuzhuangGarden. The French style villa also features Southern European and Baroque style.
It has 5 floors and its vertical view is octagonal, that's why the name Octagonal Villa was born.
Add: No.15, Lujiao Road (鹿礁路)
9). Huang Rongyuan Villa (黄荣远堂)
The ancient Rome style villa was built in 1920. It has many pillars, small and large, which are made of granite with carvings. It is the essence of the island's architecture that combines perfectly Western style and Chinese style, tradition and modernity.
Add: No.32, Fujian Road (福建路)
10). HSBCMansion (汇丰公馆)
It was built on the cliff of Bijia Hill (笔架山) by the sea in 1876. It's of Corinthian architectural style. The villa covers an area of 400 square metres.
In 1873, HSBC set up its office in Xiamen. It's said that the Governor of HSBC used to live here for years.
Add: No.57, Guxin Road (鼓新路)
11). Yin House (yin zhai 殷宅)
The house was built in 1925 by Mr. Yin Zuze (殷祖泽), the first son of the house owner. The renaissance house has five arched structures, three living rooms and four bedrooms.
Add: No.126, Quanzhou Road
12). Li Qingquan Villa (李清泉别墅)
Mr. Li Qingquan, a contemporary Philippine Chinese, built the villa. In the cobbled courtyard, there are European style fountain, rockery, pavilion and precious araucaria.
Add: No.7, Qishan Road (旗山路)
13). Yang Family Houses (yang jia yuan 杨家园)
The Yang Family has four villas on GulangyuIsland. The Zhongquan House (忠权楼) at Guxin Road is the most magnificent, while the house at Anhai Road is the most beautiful.
Zhongquan House is a British style villa with grooved pillars and arched windows. Each of the windows is carved with different carved depictions.
All the houses were equipped with advanced water supply system. There are pools on the top floors and ground floors to save rain water. In the courtyard, there is a wall. Different sources of water were used for clothes washing, watering, fire fighting, toilet cleaning, while the underground water from the wall is used for drinking.
Add1: No.27-29, Guxin Road (鼓新路)
Add2: No.4-8, Anhai Road (安海路)
14). Ship Villa (船屋)
It was built in 1920 and designed by Dr. John Abraham Otte. Since its ground base is triangle, like a cabin on an ocean vessel. Viewed from its third floor, it looks like an ocean vessel set for a voyage.
The villa is simple but elegant, with plenty of daylight and good ventilation.
Add: No.48, Guxin Road
15). YizuMansion (yi zu shan zhuang 亦足山庄)
Built in the 1920s, the villa was owned by Vietnamese Chinese Mr. Xu Han (许汉). It has the largest gate house and stone steps on the island. Its outer appearance is upright and magnificent.
Add: No.9, Bishan Road (笔山路)


In 1902, GulangyuIsland became a concession. Afterwards, Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Denmark and other six foreign countries all set up consulates and built villas on the island. A large number of elite foreigners and overseas Chinese also built hundreds of delightful buildings on the island. All these exotic buildings have now made the island a mini architectural museum.