View from the peak on Gulangyu of Xiamen
|Literal meaning||Drum Wave Islet|
Gulangyu is an island off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian province in southern China, about 2 km2 (0.77 sq mi) in area. It is home to about 20,000 people and is a domestic tourist destination. The only vehicles permitted are small electric buggies and electric government service vehicles.
Visitors can reach it by ferry from Xiamen Island in about 10 minutes. Gulangyu Island is renowned for its beaches and winding lanes and its varied architecture.
The island is on China's list of National Scenic Spots and also ranks at the top of the list of the ten most-scenic areas in the province.
Xiamen (also known as Amoy) became a treaty port resulting from China's loss in the First Opium War and the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, hence the predominantly Victorian-era style architecture throughout Gulangyu Island, where 13 countries including Great Britain, France and Japan established consulates, churches, and hospitals. Gulangyu was officially designated an International Settlement in 1903. Japanese occupation of the island began in 1942, and lasted until the end of World War II. The Amoy dialect of Hokkien is spoken on the island.
As a place of residence for Westerners during Xiamen's colonial past, Gulangyu is famous for its architecture and for hosting China's only piano museum, giving it the nickname of "Piano Island" or "The Town of Pianos" (鋼琴之鄉) or "The Island of Music" (音樂之島). There are over 200 pianos on this island.
In addition, there is a museum dedicated to Koxinga, Haidi Shijie (海底世界) Marine World, a subtropical garden containing plants introduced by overseas Chinese, as well as Xiamen Museum, formerly the Eight Diagrams Tower (八卦樓).
The island of Gulangyu is a pedestrian-only destination, where the only vehicles on the islands are several fire trucks and electric tourist buggies. The narrow streets on the island, together with the architecture of various styles around the world, give the island a unique appearance. The site is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.
Gulangyu is unique in China as a "traffic-free island". It is connected to the main island of Xiamen only by ferry.
Neither cars nor bicycles are allowed, thus providing an alternative to the frenetic Xiamen Island across the river, although the recent introduction of electric tourist buggies may be damaging the island's charm. Freight is pulled on wheeled wooden carts up the often steep lanes by strong teams of men.
- Xiaoyue, Sikong (September–October 2009). "The Architecture of Fujian: A Fusion of East and West". Chinese National Geography 1 (3): 82–101.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gulangyu.|
- Webpage about the island, with map
- Shanghai Star article: "Gulangyu Island - Garden on the sea"
- Shenzhen Daily article: "Gulangyu - A Piano Island"
- Article on newcolonist.com: "China's Carfree Town: Gulangyu"
- Xiamen-Gulangyu ferry times
- Dr Howard M Scott "Kulanghsu"
- Gulangyu Boat Tour