A visit to Sanxia is not complete without a visit to Sanxia old street – which is actually the southern section of Minquan St. in New Taipei City.
This throwback to the Japanese occupation era of Taiwan is full of little shops and eateries offering all manner of goods. While a lot of “old streets” in Taiwanese towns have similar shops and boutiques, Sanxia is different because the architecture on the old street is very uniquely Japanese. The red brick buildings are in great shape and are from the time of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.
In it’s heydey, this street was a centre of commerce for manufacturing materials and dyes, among another other things. The Japanese renovated all the structures and they’ve lasted to this day, giving Sanxia old street a flavour of the past. Because this was a place where money changed hands, most of the people who lived here were well off. The buildings are almost exclusively red brick – no cement or cheap construction materials were used. This may be why they have aged so well. Walking into the street is like being transported to a different place and time.
The entrance says San Jiao Yong Old Street:
Looking down, you see a narrow, tiled street. There are potted plants on the sides of the road, and even the drainage hole covers have designs on them:
The buildings are mostly red brick with pillars. Interspersed among them, there are ornate building with carvings on the pillars. Something you might expect in a temple, but not on a street or residence:
As you can see, there are a lot of pillars that connect with arching shapes along the street – this is definitely not something commonplace for houses in Taiwan.
Walking under the buildings from shop to shop (on the sidewalk) one can also observe the curved, arching ceiling support for the hallways:
If nothing else, it’s worth going to Sanxia old street just to observe the architecture.
Another relic that caught my eye was a pump action well. As first glance I thought it was a storage bin of some sort, but upon closer inspection I realized what it was. Back in the day, these were commonly used as a source for water:
As for the shops, in addition to the regular clothing, shoes, hats and food stalls, there were a lot of shops offering ornate carvings of marble, jade, crystal and other stones:
Some fantastic looking pottery stalls:
A store offering calligraphy materials, including a GIGANTIC brush (I have no idea how that could be used for calligraphy by a normal sized person):
And an incense shop. This was probably the coolest one for me, as I observed the man actually chopping up the wood to make those fine stick of incense right then and there:
Finally, like a lot of unique places in Taiwan, Sanxia old street also has it’s own famous food. In this case it’s the Bull horns croissants or 三峽牛角麵包 in Mandarin – which literally translates to Sanxia ox horn bread.
It’s kind of like a breadier, sweeter croissant. They come in different flavours (chocolate, banana, red bean, vanilla etc). The original is very delicious and quite buttery. But be careful. They can get addictive and pack on the calories.
Sanxia old street is a nice, quaint place to spend a day wandering around. It’s easily accessible and there are a few parking lots located very close in case you are driving a car. In addition, near the old street is the Zushi Temple, which I have written about here.
Sanxia old street can be found: