In the Banqiao district of Taipei lies the Lin Family Mansion and Garden. This historical site is the most completely preserved traditional home in Taiwan. The ancestors of the Lin family moved to Taiwan in 1778 from mainland China, and through farming and land ownership grew very wealthy. In 1851, the family began construction of the mansion and gardens, which took over 40 years and a cost of 500,000 taels of silver. At the time, the establishment of Taipei city itself took only 250,000 taels of silver, which attests the the massive wealth that the Lin family had. Materials and craftsmen were brought over from China to work on the construction.
During the time of the Japanese Occupation in Taiwan, the family fled the home for fear of being coerced by the Japanese forces to comply and help assimilate the large number of people that the Lin family employed and had influence over. As a result, the Japanese took over the home for many years. After the occupation, the mansion was taken over by squatters, and it fell into decline.
In the 80's members of the family took back the home, but then donated it to the city. Since then, it has gone several periods of maintenence and restoration.
The grounds are a massive area with several buildings that were used as guesthouses, and also contains a library. The are ponds, and pavilions throughout as well as artificial “hills” and “mountains”, which re-create natural landscapes.
At the time of this writer's visit however, the mansion itself was undergoing restoration, and only the smaller buildings were open.
Admission is free to the gardens, which can be accessed by taking the MRT to Fuzhong station on the Bannan line. From there, it is a short 10 minute walk to the gardens.