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Situated next to St. John's Cathedral, the Former French Mission Building was built by order of the first Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Henry Pottinger. The granite and red brick structure was completed between 1842-1843, making it one of Hong Kong's oldest surviving colonial buildings. Acquired by the French Mission in 1915, it was finally sold back to the Hong Kong Government in 1953. Nowadays the neo-classically styled building is used as the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal and has been declared a monument.
On weekdays, Statue Square, although busy, sees people quietly sitting alongside the fountains, resting during lunch breaks or waiting for loved ones after work. At weekends, the square takes on a vibrant party atmosphere. The statue of Queen Victoria that was once displayed here has long since been moved to Victoria Park. Across Chater Road is the Cenotaph, a memorial monument to the Hong Kong residents who died during World Wars I and II.
Built in 1847, the Cathedral is the oldest Anglican Church in the Far East. It underwent an extension in 1873 and was converted into a clubhouse for the Japanese Imperial Army during the Japanese Occupation between 1942-1944. During this time, the building was damaged considerably, which led to its rebuilding after the Second World War. It was declared a historical monument in 1996. Apart from weekly services, the church now also runs a number of community and social services.
Completed only a year after the Communist Party came to power in China, this building had a lot to prove! The neighbouring Hongkong and Shanghai Bank building, since demolished to make way for Foster's steel and glass concoction, had to be surpassed in every way, which it duly was. Continuing the patriotic theme, external loudspeakers encouraged passers-by to revolt against the colonial rulers during the heady days of the Cultural Revolution in 1967. No longer home to the Bank of China, the occupants now include the Sin Hua Bank as well as the exclusive, old Shanghai-style China Club.
Completed in 1990, this Hong Kong landmark is the masterpiece of the world-famous Chinese architect I. M. Pei. The 70-story structure has been criticized for its bad feng shui, as the building is comprised of four triangular sections, a definite no-no in Chinese geometry. The sharp vertical edges also radiate destructive energy towards the banks' major rivals, and neighbors: Citibank, the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank, and the Bank of America. However negative, the tower's simple architecture and clean lines add to the modern architectural heritage of Hong Kong. The 46th floor offers great views over Central.
In the midst of some formidable modern architecture stands the neo-classical structure of the Legco Building. The Goddess of Justice above the main entrance dates back to 1912 when the building was originally opened as the Supreme Court. In the early 1980s the Legislative Council took over occupancy. Many of the Legislative Council meetings are open to the public, which is a great way to get a look inside this old colonial beauty. Check out the Legco website to see what is on and then call during office hours to reserve a seat.
The Peak Tram ascends the steep incline of Victoria Peak, offering visitors a convenient way of getting to the peak and all its sightseeing amenities. The Tram, which is itself an attraction, dates back to 1888 with new and larger cars installed in 1989. Passengers sit back for a literally vertical ride enjoying panoramic views as the car steadily makes its way to the top.
Built in 1855, and extensively redesigned during the wartime occupation by the Japanese, Government House has been home to 25 British governors until 1997. Today, it is used for entertaining VIPs, and for fund-raising events. Government House is closed to the public, but it throws open its doors for one Sunday in March every year, allowing the populace an opportunity to view the gardens filled with beautiful azaleas. Alternatively, the 46th floor of the The Bank of China Tower is a great place for a birds-eye view of this monument to Hong Kong's colonial history.