Located on the north shore of Hong Kong Island is Central, the central business district of Hong Kong. It is a modern business and commerce hub where multinational corporations have setup headquarters in the numerous high rise buildings that mushroomed in the area over the years. Many government departments also have their head offices within Central. But aside from being a business center, Central is also home to some of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist attractions. Here are some of the most popular attractions in Central, Hong Kong:
A public pedestrian square built on reclaimed land at the end of the 19th century. It is consisted of two parts separated by Chater Road into a northern and a southern sections. It is bordered by Connaught Road Central in the north and by Des Voeux Road Central in the south. It was called Statue Square because of the numerous statues of British royalty that used to stand in the area. However, the statues were removed by the Japanese when they occupied Hong Kong during the WWII. At present, only the statue of HSBC banker Sir Thomas Jackson stood on the square.
Former Supreme Court Building
Located on the eastern side of Statue Square and west of Chater Garden is a neo-classical building built on 1912. It was designed by British architect Sir Aston Webb, who was also the man responsible for the eastern facade of Buckingham Palace and the Cromwell Road frontage of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
HSBC Hong Kong Headquarters Building
More commonly known as the HSBC Building, this structure was touted as the world’s most expensive building when it was inaugurated in 1985. The modern high rise, designed by the internationally known architect, Norman Foster, features a massive atrium and was built following Feng Shui rules to allow a free flow of positive energies.
Bank of China (BOC) Tower
Very near the HSBC Building is one of the most eye catching skyscraper in Hong Kong, the Bank of China Tower. Because of its height and unique architectural design, this building has become one of the most recognizable landmark of the city. It can be seen from almost everywhere around Victoria Harbour and the rest of Hong Kong Island. Standing at 315 meters, the Bank of China Tower used to hold the distinction of being Asia’s tallest building from 1989 to 1992. It was also the first building outside the US to break the 1000 foot mark.
Hong Kong Park
Adjacent to the Bank of China Tower is a lush park amidst the modern skyscrapers. The Hong Kong Park serves as a respite to businessmen and employees working in high rise offices in the area. The park features lotus ponds, waterfalls, Tai Chi Garden and an amazing walk-through aviary.
Located within the Hong Kong Park is the Flagstaff House, touted as the oldest remaining colonial-style building in the area. It once served as the military headquarters office and residence of the Commander of the British forces in Hong Kong, and is now home of the Museum of Tea Ware, where you can see some fascinating collections of tea related artifacts.
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
This is one of the oldest existing zoos in the world. It was opened to the public in the early 1870s and features a small but nevertheless, interesting collection of animals on display. It also has an impressive botanical section featuring some unique plants, indigenous to this part of the world.
Aside from the Flagstaff House, Central is home to other interesting colonial buildings such as the neo-classical Former French Mission Building; the St. John’s Cathedral, which is built in the 1840s and said to be East Asia’s oldest Anglican church; and the Helena May main building, which was originally built in 1916 to provide a safe respite for unaccompanied women who arrived at the city. These historic buildings provides a glimpse into how the city looked like in its early days.
Other attractions worth visiting in Central are the old stairway at Duddell Street, where Hong Kong’s only remaining gas lamps can still be seen; Bishop’s House and The Fringe Club on adjacent Lower Albert Road; and the Exchange Square Complex, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee at a piazza surrounded by contemporary sculptures. And while you are enjoying your coffee and the sculptures, you can also marvel at the IFC Tower, the magnificent tower standing between Exchange Square and the Star Ferry Pier, one of Hong Kong’s tallest building.