The Former British Consular Residence (打狗英國領事館) is where the British Empire's diplomatic representative in south Taiwan lived between 1879 and 1897. This single-story redbrick abode remains a most desirable residence, a report made to London by the British official who obtained the site being as true today as it was then: "It is the finest site at the port, commanding a view of the harbor and settlement on the east, the sea on the south and west, and a high range of mountains to the north." However, because it was a long walk from the waterfront and thus inconvenient for business purposes, a second plot of land at the foot of the hill had to be secured for the actual consular offices.
British vice consuls were first stationed in Kaohsiung (then known as Takao, 打狗) in the early 1860s, when the harbor was opened to foreign trade by the First Convention of Peking. Before the residence was built, they lodged aboard a ship anchored in the harbor. In addition to protecting the interests of the UK and its empire, the vice consul also represented Denmark, Germany, France and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Like the residence beside Fort San Domingo, Kaohsiung's Former Consular Residence was designed and its erection supervised by members of the British Army's Corps of Royal Engineers. According to a history of the building published in 2007, a lack of skilled workers in Taiwan meant the beams and joists were cut in Fujian and then shipped to Kaohsiung. The doors, windows and roofing were prefabricated in Shanghai. There were other complications: British government rules requiring building projects to be completed within the financial year took no account of Taiwan's wet summers, which make construction work almost impossible between July and September.
The residence's location meant it enjoyed excellent natural ventilation, but also left it vulnerable to typhoon damage. By 1899, a combination of typhoons and ants meant the residence was no longer habitable. The UK's Foreign Office modified and renovated the structure at considerable expense, yet it was never again lived in. In 1925, all British government properties in south Taiwan - excluding the long-disappeared foreigners' cemetery (nearby at what's now 30-7, Lane 60, Dengshan Road 登山路60巷30-7號) - were sold to the Japanese colonial authorities.
Nowadays the former residence serves as a restaurant and museum. It's an excellent place to watch the sun go down, and the displays inside will teach you a bit about how foreign trade shaped Kaohsiung. There's also some information about Robert Swinhoe (1836-1877), an early British consul remembered now for his work as an amateur naturalist.
From Kaohsiung Main Train Station, take city bus 248 and get off when you see the fishing boats in Sizihwan Harbor. From there it's a long walk, so hail a taxi or take city bus 99 around the promontory. You'll still need to climb several steps.