In 1874, (the 13th year of Emperor Tongzhi’s reign in the Qing Dynasty) Japanese troops invaded Taiwan as a result of the Mudan Incident and prompting the Qing court to not only put Shen Baozhen in charge of Taiwan’s defense system, but also send a delegation to negotiate Japan’s military withdrawal from Taiwan. While vehemently reinforcing the Formosan defense works, Shen suggested that a fortress be built in Anping to safeguard the coastline and Taiwan Prefecture, present-day Tainan. Following his advice, the Eternal Golden Castle was constructed out of brick materials from Fort Zeelandia and European-style red bricks, encircled by an approximately 3-meter-wide moat filled with seawater deeper than the average height of adults. The castle was accessed through its southeastward-facing arched gate.
Inaugurated in 1876 (the 2nd year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign), the Eternal Golden Castle is Taiwan’s first modern, Western-style fortress equipped with powerful weapons: five British-made Armstrong muzzle-loading cannons that are 18-pounders. Beneath the cannon emplacements is the 60-centimeter-thick wall of a mortar house functioning as an anti-raid shelter and ammunition depot that, nevertheless, was destroyed and reduced to a soil-covered slope. Early in the 20th century, the castle was a sad sight of dilapidation as the damaged cannons were sold, wooden bridge broken and arched gate blocked off by fragmented bricks. Fortunately, replicas of cannons and guns were added to the Eternal Golden Castle in 1975 as part of Tainan City Government’s massive restoration effort that marked this historic site’s centenary.