But for a few walls and foundations, nothing remains of Fort Zeelandia (安平古堡, also called Anping Old Fort), the stronghold built by the Dutch East India Company and named after the vessel on which the first VOC governor arrived. Despite this, it's a place that should be on your itinerary if you wish to learn about the Netherlands' brief but historically critical occupation of the Tainan area.
The fort was constructed in the early 1630s atop a mound on what was then a sand spit, but which is now 2.6km from the sea. The walls were made of bricks (some fired on site, some brought from the VOC colony at Batavia in what's now Indonesia) cemented together with a mixture of glutinous rice, sugar, sand and crushed oyster shells. The complex was actually much larger than the present-day tourist site suggests; if you explore the neighborhood, you'll come across fragments of old walls which the authorities had labeled for the convenience of history-hungry tourists.
By the time British diplomat Herbert J. Allen visited in 1877, Fort Zeelandia was in ruins, and not only because of earthquakes and typhoons. "It was being rapidly pulled down by the Chinese, in order that the bricks might be used in the erection of a grand new fort with four bastions, which was being put up under the superintendence of some French officers," he told the Royal Geographical Society in London. The "new fort" he refers to is Eternal Golden Castle (億載金城). It's about 3km south of Fort Zeelandia and open to the public.
Fort Zeelandia's on-site museum has examples of the china the VOC shipped to Europe, plus lots of information about life in the fortress, the siege that ended the Dutch era and marked the founding of the Kingdom of Dongning, and the ultimate fate of Frederik Coyett, the governor who surrendered to Koxinga.
The Japanese era single-story building atop the mound served as a customs office. Inside you'll find some more displays and an impressive collection of 17th century weapons. The adjacent watchtower, a 1970s anachronism, hardly adds to the elegance of the ruins. Nevertheless, do climb the stairs for decent views, and to appreciate just how far the sea has receded since the VOC era.
For a long time, Fort Zeelandia's Chinese name was Wangcheng (王城, literally "king's town.") This was the result of a misunderstanding, the Qing believing that Coyett was of royal descent because his Chinese name included the character 王, meaning "king."
From Tainan TRA Station, take city bus no. 2 to the Fort Zeelandia (Anping Old Fort) bus stop, then walk southward for about two minutes.