Kaohsiung was originally named “Dagao,” or “Takao,” the ancient site of the Dagao Community of the Makatto Tribe, a branch of the Siraya aboriginal tribe. The Makatto tribe planted bamboo forests around their homes to stop invasion from pirates, and in the Makatto language “Takau” means bamboo. The Han Chinese then phonetically translated the Makatto’s living place as “Dagao.” In 1563 the tribe was pilfered by the pirate Dao Chien Lin, and some of them migrated to the Ah Ho Lin (hills in Dashu) forming the Ah Ho communities in the areas of present day Pingtung City. By the time the Dutch arrived at Dagao, the Makatto tribe was no longer there. It is possible the Small Creek shellfish tomb site in Tsaishan is possibly a remnant of the Makatto tribe.
There are two main sites as mentioned above; one is the Taozhiyuan Site, located in the seaside Old Taozhiyuan village on the northwestern side of Northern Shoushan. This site contains the Taozhiyuan shellfish mound and urn coffin burial grounds, and is the earliest archeological site currently discovered in Kaohsiung City. The site is estimated to date back to 4,000 to 5,000 years B.C. The excavated finds included pottery and stone tools consistent with the Niu-chou-zi Culture period. The second site is Longchuan Temple Site, located in Northern Shoushan. This site includes the orchard in the southwestern side of Longchuan Temple, and another at the nameless creek behind the temple. An excavation in 1994 unearthed many remains of the Pepo tribe artifacts, such as shellfish mounds, pottery, stone tools and animal skeletons, dated approximately 400 to 2000 years ago.
During the Dutch Occupation periods, Dagao was already known as an excellent fishing ground. After the Koxinga ousted the Dutch during the Ming Dynasty, he set up colonies and cultivated in areas of present day Cianjhen, Houjin, Zuoying and Youchang districts. The Longshuei village in the Gushan District contains the Longchuan Well (Dragon’s Spring or Dragon’s Throat), which was rumored that Koxinga had once made camp here after he ousted the Dutch.
The Old City of Zupying was once called Hsinglungchuang, and was rumored to be one of the four encampments set up by Koxinga’s military in Kaohsiung during the Ming Dynasty. After the annex of Taiwan by the Qing Dynasty in 1684, Kaohsiung was under the administration of the Fongshan County, and Zuoying was chosen as the headquarters of the Fongshan County office, one of the important cities during Early Qing Dynasty. At the time, the walls had not been built, only the County Government Office was established. In 1722, the governor of Zuoying County, Liou Kwang-shi, built the first city wall made of mud. This was the first official record of the city building in Fongshan. In 1788, after the Lin Shuang-wen incident was pacified, the County Office was relocated to the present day Fongshan City, and the original fortress walls was called the “Old City.” The currently surviving remnants of the Zuoying City walls included the East Gate, South Gate, North Gate, West Goat, moat, Gongchen Well, and the Jinfu Temple outside the North gate. The current Old City was built in 1825 with contributions from government and private sectors, and was the first fortress in Taiwan to be built with mud and stone.
The 1858 Treaty of Tien-tsin and the 1860 Treaty of Peking forced the Qing Dynasty to open up the ports of Taiwan to foreign trade. To expand the economical benefits of trade with Taiwan, the British Government established a consulate at Takao, which was tasked with providing security for foreigners, business trade, exercising the rights of consulate decision, and negotiation with the locals. The British Consulate Residence of Takao is situated on the western part of Shoushan, on the peak of the Shaochuantou near the entrance of Sizhiwan Bay. This building bears witness to the history of the growth of ocean trade since the opening of the Takao Port, and also is the first consulate building funded and built by the British Office of Works. The consulate is an independent building of red brick and wooden corridors, the office section (including prisons and police quarters) is located near the beaches of Shaochuantou. The two buildings are connected via an old hiking trail.
After the Mudan Incident in 1874, the Qing court dispatched Shen Pao-chen, Naval Commissioner of the Qing Dynasty to Taiwan to improve the coastal defense. Shen invited British engineers to build a battery on top of Qihou Mountain in 1875. The Qihou Fortification, Dapingding Battery on Dagao Mountain and the Syongjhen North Gate Battery of the Shaochuantou formed a defensive line that oversees the security of the entire Port of Takao. The main entrance is modeled after the Chinese character “Eight”, the walls included brick designs of the Chinese character “double happiness囍” as well. In 1895 during the Yiwei War, the Japanese invasion force quickly occupied the deserted Chihou Fortification. The walls of the fort were left to ruin during the late years of Japanese Occupation, its cannons dismantled and melted.
The Qihou Lighthouse is located in the northern peak of the Qihou Shan in Qijin District. After the signing of the Convention of Peking in 1860, Takao officially opened its port in 1863, with merchant vessels coming and going frequently into Takao. The growing trading business demanded better navigational equipment. In 1883, the Qing Navy Lieutenant Wang Fu Lu commissioned British engineers to build a lighthouse in the style of Chinese square brick building on the northern peak of Qihoushan Mountain. The lighthouse is equipped with a British made class 6, single filament fixed light lantern with a visible range of about 10 nautical miles to ensure the nighttime safety of vessels entering the leaving the Takao Harbor. Now all that’s left of the original lighthouse is the foundation on the north side of the modern light house. During the Japanese Occupation, a new lighthouse was built by the Japanese in 1916 as part of the expansion of the Kaohsiung Harbor. The pedestal of the lighthouse was built in the post Renaissance Baroque style. The back of the main structure was an octagonal tower with a coned roof, containing a class 3 lantern with a visible range of 20.5 nautical miles. The lighthouse also has a 24-hour telegraph system and emits lights non-stop to guide the vessels at sea, ensuring maritime safety. The lighthouse is now maintained by the Directorate General of Customs, Ministry of Finance.