Coming from a speaking engagement where my nerves went haywire, I had to unwind and take my mind off what just happened. I had a few hours to spare before my flight back to Manila so I went on Google to check some off-the-beaten-path places in Hong Kong and found this interesting place which used to be a police station and a prison.
IN THE KNOW
I remember that I used to pass by this area coming from Hollywood Road, but the whole place was covered in white plaster sheets. It was only recently when they opened it up to the public (May 29, 2018) after an eight year rehabilitation and development sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage & Arts is now set to offer a range of contemporary and performing art programs.
Little did I know that this is not your ordinary place for arts – it is located in the restored Central Police Station compound, encompassing three declared monuments—the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. The first thing you would probably notice when you enter is the white splashed walls and red brick buildings reminiscent of the old prison barracks. The uncle who guided me inside Tai Kwun mentioned that “Tai Kwun” in Chinese means “big station” which police and locals used to refer to the police station complex.
Address: 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Tai Kwun is located at the heart of Central in Hong Kong Island bordered by Old Bailey Street, Hollywood Road and Arbuthnot Road. There are 5 gates that can be used by the public all of which are on or near Hollywood Road. The easiest landmark for me as a foreigner was just to go up to the end of Hollywood Road. If coming from PMQ, Tai Kwun would be on the right side. I used the Pottinger Gate as my entry point to Tai Kwun. (Map from Tai Kwun Pass email). The closest MRT station is Central Station then take Exit D1.
Before heading to Tai Kwun, make sure you get your Tai Kwun Pass online – it is absolutely free and all you need to do is register via their website . During registration, you would need to key in your preferred time of access and the number of visitors included in the pass. Once done, you will receive an email confirmation together with a copy of your pass (in blue) and a map of the entrance gates. The Tai Kwun Pass is important because the guards will ask for this prior to entrance and will scan your QR code. Upon entry, they will provide you with a map as your guide inside the compound.
Once inside the compound, you will be welcomed by tall buildings and begin to wonder where to explore first. Here is a photo blog of the Tai Kwun compound.
Red Bricked Walls and Stone Hallways
The Old Prison Halls
The Courtyard, New Buildings and Centre for Arts
I had a peaceful and quiet afternoon at Tai Kwun while learning much about its history and heritage. Uncle said there would be more events to be held in Tai Kwun in the coming months. Don’t forget to check out Tai Kwun’s website to see up and coming performances and exhibitions.