Tainan, officially Tainan City, is a city in southern Taiwan. The city proper is a special municipality facing the Formosan Strait or Taiwan Strait in the west and south. Tainan is the oldest city on the island of Taiwan and also commonly known as the “Capital City” for its over 200 years of history as the capital of Taiwan under Koxinga and later Qing rule. Tainan’s complex history of comebacks, redefinitions and renewals inspired its popular nickname “the Phoenix City”.
As Taiwan’s oldest urban area, Tainan was initially established by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a ruling and trading base called Fort Zeelandia during the period of Dutch rule on the island. After Dutch colonists were defeated by Koxinga in 1661, Tainan remained as the capital of the Tungning Kingdom until 1683 and afterwards the capital of Taiwan Prefecture under Qing Dynasty rule until 1887, when the new provincial capital was moved to Taipei. Tainan has been historically regarded as one of the oldest cities in Taiwan, and its former name, Tayouan, has been claimed to be the origin of the name “Taiwan”. It is also one of Taiwan’s cultural capitals, for its rich folk cultures including the famous local street food and traditional cuisine, extensively preserved Taoist rites and other living local traditions covering everything from child birth to funerals. The city houses the first Confucian school–temple in Taiwan, built in 1665, the remains of the Eastern and Southern gates of the old city, and countless other historical monuments. Tainan claims more Buddhist and Taoist temples than any other city in Taiwan.