A Century of Architecture

Garden Road Leisure Walk – a Century of Architecture

Travel along Hong Kong's historic timeline of more than a hundred years and savour the rich culture at your own pace.

A Century of Architecture
Garden Road Leisure Walk mapAs the headquarters of Hong Kong’s government and finance world, the Central district has been at the heart of Hong Kong’s development from the 19th century right up until today. Garden Road is where most of the culturally significant buildings of the area abound and is steeped in Hong Kong’s rich heritage. However, these architectural gems take pride of place alongside many ultra-modern buildings designed by some of the world’s biggest names in architecture. The city’s colonial past comes to life on this walk, while also boasting the centre of the current administration, including the residence of the chief executive, plus iconic buildings that house some of Hong Kong’s leading commercial and financial giants.

1. Flagstaff House (Museum of Tea Ware)
Flagstaff House (Museum of Tea Ware)

Located in Hong Kong Park, the beautiful Flagstaff House is the oldest existing Western building in Hong Kong. Built in 1846, it was formerly known as Headquarters House and was renamed Flagstaff House around 1932, when it became the office and residence of the commander of the British forces up until 1978. In 1984, it was converted into the Museum of Tea Ware, displaying tea paraphemalia from a variety of periods.

How to get there

MTR Admiralty Station, Exit C1. Follow the signs to Hong Kong Park or the Island Shangri-La Hotel. Hong Kong Park is your first stop and is opposite to the upper entrance of the Pacific Place mall.

2. Rawlinson House (Park Management Office and Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry)
Rawlinson House (Park Management Office and Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry)

Rawlinson House was built in the early 20th century as the residence of the deputy commander of the British forces in the old Victoria Barracks. It was preserved and listed as a Grade I Historic Building and is now used as the Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry and the Park Management Office.

How to get there

Follow the signs inside the park to Rawlinson House (Park Management Office and Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry).

3. Peak Tram
Peak Tram

The trusty Peak Tram has been in operation since 1888, carrying people up an incline so steep that buildings appear as if they are leaning at 45-degree angles! The tram was for the exclusive use of the British governor and The Peak’s residents in the past, but today everyone can enjoy the steepest funicular railway in the world.

How to get there

Walk onto Cotton Tree Drive and head upwards (facing south). Turn right into the Peak Tram Lower Terminus after you pass the Hong Kong Squash Centre.

4. The Helena May Building
The Helena May Building

Not currently open to the public except during special occasions, the Helena May Building was built in 1914 and officially opened in 1916 as a hostel for women. During the Second World War, it was occupied by Japanese troops and not reopened until 1947.

How to get there

The Helena May Building is near the Peak Tram Lower Terminus.

5. St Joseph’s Church
St Joseph’s Church

Built in 1871, the robust St Joseph’s Church has survived the onslaughts of the Second World War plus numerous typhoons. It was demolished and rebuilt during the mid 20th century.

How to get there

St Joseph’s Church is located next to the Helena May Building.

6. Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

Watch locals perform tai chi – or even join in! There are more than 1,000 plant species in the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, as well as a small zoo housing various species of birds, mammals and reptiles.

How to get there

Cross Garden Road via the footbridge to get to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens.

7. Government House
Government House

Beginning in 1851, it took four years to complete this former office and residence of the governors of Hong Kong. It was originally built in the Georgian style, but during the Second World War Japanese occupation, a dominant central tower was constructed to link the two original buildings, and the roofs were modified to bring in a more Japanese flavour, thus diminishing the European style of the mansion. Government House is now the residence and office of the chief executive of Hong Kong and is therefore not currently open to the public, except during special occasions.

How to get there

Cross Upper Albert Road to reach Government House.

8. Central Government Offices
Central Government Offices

Completed in 1957 by the then British colonial government, the Central Government Offices, also known as the Government Headquarters, housed many major government departments before most of the offices were relocated to the new Central Government Complex at Tamar in 2011.

How to get there

Continue along Upper Albert Road to the Central Government Offices.

9. St John’s Cathedral
St John’s Cathedral

St John’s Cathedral is the oldest surviving Western-style ecclesiastical building in Hong Kong and was built in the 13th century Early English and Decorated Gothic style, with construction completed in 1849. It was preserved as a Declared Monument in 1996.

How to get there

Walk along Garden Road to St John’s Cathedral.

10. Former French Mission Building
Former French Mission Building

This former French Mission Building located on Battery Path was built in 1917. It’s constructed in granite and red bricks in Neoclassical style, with a chapel incorporated in its northwest corner and a cupola projecting above the roof. It is not currently open to the public.

How to get there

Just beyond St John’s Cathedral is the Former French Mission Building.

11. Bank of China Tower
Bank of China Tower

This spectacular 70-storey prism-like structure is the work of the renowned Chinese–American architect I. M. Pei and, at a height of 367.4 metres, Bank of China Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong. Its asymmetrical form is pure geometry and has been compared to a bamboo plant, which extends its trunk successively higher with each new burst of growth.

How to get there

Walk back to Garden Road via Battery Path and down to the Bank of China Tower.

12. HSBC Main Building
HSBC Main Building

The HSBC Main Building is the first building of its size in Hong Kong constructed entirely of structural steel without any reinforced concrete used in its inner core. Designed by the acclaimed British architect Lord Norman Foster, it’s considered a marvel of modern architectural design. On a more traditional note, it’s believed that rubbing the paws of the two bronze lions that have guarded the portals of the bank since 1935 will bring good luck.

How to get there

Cross Queen’s Road Central and head to the HSBC Main Building.