Hong Kong and Shenzhen are usually not associated with history, but Dapeng Fortress or Dapeng Walled City in Shenzhen will take you back as far as 1394 to a time where the local fishermen tried to defend against the intruding sea pirates.
Dapeng Village is one of the Shenzhen sights I’ve always wanted to visit but never quite got around to it. It’s located in the far east side of Shenzhen, about an hour taxi from the border crossing from Hong Kong and taxi drivers aren’t very excited about going that far away one way. But, recently I had the change to do a short trip to the eastern Shenzhen and so Dapeng seemed more approachable, so I finally got to visit and see what the village was about.
Lonely Planet ranks Dapeng Village as the number one attraction in Shenzhen :
East of Shenzen is Dapeng Fortress. This preserved walled town, still a lively village, was built 600 years ago and was a key battle site in the Opium Wars in the 19th century. To get here, board bus 360 at Yinhu bus station; the bus also stops near China Regency Hotel at Sungang Lu. The journey takes about 90 minutes. Alight at Dapeng bus station (Dàpéng zǒngzhàn; 大鹏总站 ) and change to bus 966. Faster and easier is the Sha Tau Kok Express ($60, 90 minutes, hourly departure between 7am and 6.30pm) at Suffolk Rd (MTR Kowloon Tong, exit C). At the Dapeng bus station change to minibus 966.
But other than that you’ll find very little information about it in English. The wonderful HK based Randomwire has a good post (though the map is in accurate), Living a Dream in China has a bit more, but that’s about it. Even Wikipedia doesn’t say much. The best source is perhaps Shenzhen Daily :
LONG-TIME Shenzhen residents may have heard our fair city nicknamed “The Roc City,” the roc being a large, mythical bird. The name is a translation of “dapeng suocheng (大鹏所城),” or Dapeng Fortress, one of Shenzhen’s most spectacular historical sites. (Others say it’s because the city looks like a giant bird from the air; I think this explanation came later.)
Dapeng Fortress was built in the Ming Dynasty — in 1394, to be exact — to defend the modern areas of eastern Shenzhen and Hong Kong against Japanese pirates. The fortress stands as firm today as it did when it withstood a 40-day siege back in 1571.
You won’t find scaling ladders and siege engines today. You will, however, find an excellent museum, several small temples, numerous wells still in use, ancient store houses, and three fine gates, reminiscent to the tourist’s eye of “Great Wall”-type architecture.
The mansions of naval leaders Lai Enjue and Liu Qilong stand inside the walls. Both are magnificent. With a fleet of fishing boats, Lai Enjue won the Battle of Kowloon against British naval vessels in 1839, at the start of the First Opium War.
Finally, meet the smiling people living a relatively traditional village lifestyle far from the urban sprawl that prevails in central Shenzhen.
The site first opened as a museum in 1996, and came under State protection in 2001. It’s worth a full day, including a few hours on local buses.
What’s to see?
There’s the fortress, ofcourse…
Various old looking structures…
Local village life…
Lots of beautiful empty streets…
and interesting old buildings…
Lovely, isn’t it? There are numerous places to eat and drink with an atmosphere.
If you’re in need of a map…
If you happen to be in eastern Shenzhen, try and venture out here. It’s definitely a place worth visiting.