Tomb of the Netherlander – Tainan City, Taiwan - Atlas Obscura

Tomb of the Netherlander

Behind a 300-year-old temple hides a small tomb said to house the bones of 17th-century Dutch soldiers. 

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Nestled behind the imposing Dazhong Temple crouches a nondescript, circular construction, roughly as tall as a person. Though it was at one point decorated with plastered-on Western-style art, this art has largely faded or peeled off, giving a ragged, abandoned feel. 

The few tourists who notice the concrete structure would be forgiven if they assumed it to be a storage shed. But it is a tomb intended to house the bones of 17th-century Dutch soldiers.

The Dutch held Taiwan as a colonial outpost from 1624 until 1662, with their former center of operations in modern-day Tainan. In 1662, they were violently expelled by the Ming Dynasty loyalist-turned-pirate lord Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga). The Dutch fled the island, where Chenggong established a short-lived dynasty before being conquered by the Qing Dynasty in the 1680s. 

In 1971, a mass grave site was discovered directly behind the Dazhong Temple grounds. Among the 35 skeletons were numerous marks from sword wounds and some of the leg bones were unusually long, leading locals to believe they belonged to a group of slain Dutchmen.

If true, this would make them the only known remains of colonial-era Dutch in Taiwan. The Tainan City government built a tomb on the location to house the bones of these possible Dutch soldiers, who died far away from home, and commemorate their loss.

Know Before You Go

The tomb is freely accessible behind the temple. Check out the Sicao Green Tunnel and the Sperm Whale Exhibition Hall nearby.

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May 24, 2024

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