Kulangsu Temple, Historic International Settlement – ​​World Cultural Heritage in China

Kulangsu is a small island located on the mouth of the Chiu-lung River, opposite the city of Xiamen. With the opening of a trading port at Xiamen in 1843, and the establishment of the island as an international settlement in 1903, this island off the southern coast of the Chinese empire suddenly became a important window for exchanges between China and foreign countries. Kulangsu is an exceptional example of the cultural fusion that emerged from these exchanges, still readable in its urban fabric. There is a mix of different architectural styles including the Southern Hokkien Traditional Style, the Western Classical Revival Style, and the Veranda Colonial Style. The most distinctive evidence of the union of many different stylistic influences is a new architectural movement, the Amoy Decorative Style,

Accreditation year: 2017
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Area: 316.2 ha
Buffer zone: 886 ha

Outstanding global value

Kulangsu Island is located on the mouth of the Chiu-lung River facing Xiamen City across the 600-meter wide Lujiang Strait. With the opening of Xiamen as a trading port in 1843, and Kulangsu as an international settlement in 1903, the island in the southern coastal areas of the Chinese empire suddenly became an important window. important for exchanges between China and foreign countries. Its heritage reflects the composite nature of a modern settlement comprising 931 historic buildings of various local and international architectural styles, natural landscapes, historic road networks and historic garden.

Through the concerted efforts of local Chinese, returning overseas Chinese, and foreign residents from many countries, Kulangsu has developed into an international settlement with outstanding cultural diversity and a modern quality of life. grand. It also became an ideal residence for overseas Chinese and active elites in East and Southeast Asia and embodied the concept of modern habitat in the mid-19th century and mid-20th century. .

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Kulangsu is an exceptional example of cultural fusion, emerging from these exchanges, still readable in an organic urban fabric formed through decades of continuous integration of cultural references. more diversified. The most distinctive evidence of the juxtaposition of different stylistic influences is a truly new architectural movement, the Amoy Ornamental, which emerged from the island.

Criterion (ii): Kulangsu Island exhibits in its architectural features and styles the intersection of Chinese, Southeast Asian and European architectural and cultural values ​​and traditions created by foreign residents or repatriated Chinese settlers on the island in this diversity. The settlement created not only reflects the different influences that the settlers brought with them from their place of origin or former residence, but also synthesizes a new hybrid style – the so-called Amoy Ornament. , developed in Kulangsu and exerted influence over a larger area. in coastal areas of Southeast Asia and beyond. In it, the settlement illustrates the encounters, interactions, and fusions of diverse values ​​during Asia’s early globalization.

Criterion (iv): Kulangsu is the source and best representative of Amoy Ornament. Named after the local Hokkien dialect of Xiamen as Amoy, Amoy Deco Style refers to an architectural and typographic style that first appeared in Kulangsu and illustrates a combination of emotions. Inspiration is drawn from local building traditions, early Western influences and especially modernism as well as southern Fujian cultural migration. Building on these, the Amoy Ornament represents the transition of traditional building styles to new forms, which were later referenced throughout Southeast Asia and gained popularity in the wider region.


The integrity of the historic landscape has been maintained, mainly as a result of the consistent preservation of historic architectural structures and effective development controls in terms of height, volume and form of new buildings. The historical relationship of green space and building also contributes to the integrity of the overall landscape, including the preserved natural landscape of cliffs and rocks and historic gardens, both Independent courtyard and private garden.

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The completeness of the property is reflected in the delineation of the entire island including the surrounding coastal waters all the way to the edge of the reef, underpinning the built structures and natural setting of the island. the island forms a harmonious whole. The early recognition of harmony prevented widespread development in the waters surrounding the island, which could have been witness to other islands or the nearby mainland. What is needed to realize the island’s value is that it has never been connected to Xiamen through transport infrastructure and is still only reachable by ferry. Today, this restriction constitutes and is an essential element of visitor management processes to ensure the island’s continued integrity.

Tourist pressure is a concern that can affect the integrity of the island and therefore requires strict control. A maximum number of visitors per day of 35,000 will be allowed to access Kulangsu, a number that will need to be closely monitored to ensure enough to prevent the negative impact of large visitor flows.


Kulangsu Island has retained its authenticity in form and design, location and context as well as in many elements of the island’s materials and materials as well as – to a lesser extent – use and function. . Both urban settlement models as well as architectural structures retain their characteristic layout and stylistic features. The latter are still reliable representations of the different architectural styles that the island unites as well as the Amoy Deco style it created.

Kulangsu retains its original location and natural setting, while preserving the atmospheric qualities of an ideal residential area with a wide range of public services, continuing to serve their original function. Urban structures are still protected by the original legal context, created for the establishment of international settlement in 1903 and still in force today. The island’s different spatial settings, both natural and built, retain their original links and relationships including road connections and visibility relations.

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Protection and management requirements

Kulangsu was recognized by the State Council as a National Scenic Area in 1988 within the framework of the National Scenic Area. Fifty-one typical historic buildings, gardens, structures and cultural sites are included in the Heritage list: nineteen are National Heritage Sites, eight are Provincial Heritage Sites and twenty-four is the Heritage of the County. Furthermore, all province and county protected sites will be added to the 8th Batch of the National Heritage List.

The Kulangsu Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management Plan was officially adopted in 2011 and has been implemented by the Government since 2014. This plan establishes management strategies and actions based on extensive analysis of heritage conditions and threats. The strategy documents also integrate the provisions of all other protection plans and regulations into a comprehensive management system that institutionalizes cooperation among all management stakeholders. Designated as essential, the Conservation and Management Plan is supported by the Guidelines for the Control of Commercial Activities on Kulangsu, adopted in 2014. These guidelines guide measures to ensure regulation scale and quality for commercial services on the island, especially services in the tourism sector.

According to Kulangsu Scenic Area’s 2017 Capacity Calculation Report, the optimal number of people on the island is set at 25,000 while the absolute maximum is 50,000 people per day. Since this number includes residents and visitors to the island, the effective maximum number of visitors is currently controlled at 35,000 visitors, even on peak days.

Map of Co Lang Tu, a historic international settlement

Video about Gu Langyu – historic international settlement

See also: UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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