08 Apr Discover Hong Kong’s Stained Glass Windows
If you know where to look, Hong Kong boasts several unique and beautiful stained glass windows, some of them in the most unexpected of places, including historic buildings, places of worship, a bank, an abandoned island, shopping malls and restaurants.
Our top three picks are Haw Par Mansion, Standard Chartered Bank and Yim Tin Tsai, but read on to decide which ones you’d most like to see.
We’ve found out that a few of Hong Kong’s historic buildings have very pretty windows.
Haw Par Mansion
We discovered that there are gorgeous windows inside the old Haw Par Mansion. Originally the mansion belonged to the Tiger Balm family, the gardens were home to a small theme park, the famous Tiger Balm Gardens. Sadly, most of the land was sold off several years ago for redevelopment. Nowadays, only a small section of the gardens remain.
However, the mansion is now home to a music school. and the great news is that free guided Tours are offered in Cantonese or English. For pre-booking click here. Alternatively, keep your eyes peeled for public open days.
King Yin Lei
A rare example of mixed Chinese and Western architecture, this mansion was at one point possibly slated for demolishment. Happily it has been preserved. If you want to visit, you’ll have to keep your eyes and ears open. It’s only open to the public several days a year and you need to secure tickets in advance. At time of writing, tickets are free of charge and available on a first come, first served basis from the Heritage Discovery Centre, in Kowloon Park, the Flagstaff Museum of Teaware in Hong Kong Park and the Heritage Museum in Sha Tin. Check for up to date information on any upcoming open days here or here.
Western Market Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Western Market partially escaped the fate of many other older buildings in Hong Kong. Although the older Victorian South Block was demolished, the Edwardian style North Block, built in 1906 has survived the creep of skyscrapers. Preserved and restored, it hasn’t been a food market for many years, instead it houses a mishmash of cafes, curio shops, fabric vendors and restaurant and banquet hall.
Eclectic neighborhood Wan Chai is home to the Blue House of Stories.
Places of Worship
Churches, mosques and other places of worship are often a great place to start looking for stained glass windows. Here are Hong Kong’s best.
St. John’s Cathedral
This cathedral occupies a once prominent position and is a regular fixture on our walking tours and also features in our Hong Kong Heist Quest. However, if you don’t know where to look, it’s easy to miss now that it’s surrounded by skyscrapers in the bustle of Hong Kong’s financial district.
The original church windows were destroyed during World War II and the newer ones are the work of Joseph Nuttgens.
Our favorite ones are the North windows. In addition to a traditional pane depicting Jesus calming the storm, the side panes are unique to Hong Kong. They depict a naval ship and officer on the left and a junk boat and fisherwoman on the right hand pane.
St John’s is generally open to the public, so unless there is a service, wedding or funeral in progress, you should be able to walk in and admire the windows.
If you want to find this bijou and pretty mosque towards the top of the mid-levels escalators. You’ll have to peak inside to appreciate the windows.
Take the Mid-Levels escalator upwards. The mosque is on your left and hidden behind a mint green wrought iron gate at 30 Shelley Street.
The White Chapel
Despite not having stained glass, we’re including chapel this on the list. Why? Because, even thought the glass is plain, there is an abundance of it.
Consequently is also aesthetically pleasing and fantastically photogenic.
You can find this in Discovery Bay on Lantau Island.
Currently the chapel is part of a complex that is home to Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts.
Should you be interested in visiting the onsite BNP Museum and take a guided tour of Bethanie, check here for up to date availability.
We’ve encountered colourful glass windows in the most surprising Hong Kong locations.
Standard Chartered Bank
This vibrant tribute to Hong Kong is the work of artist Remo Reva.
Luckily, these windows are in an area of the bank that is open to the public and there is no charge. Please note that with Covid19 restrictions, it may not be possible to enter the mezzanine area.
The bank is near to Central MTR and is also very close to St John’s Cathedral, so you could kill two birds with one stone and visit both.
Surprise, we’re including not one, but two shopping centers on the list. Both Harbour City in Tsim Tsa Shui and Plaza Hollywood in Diamond Hill have stained glass ceilings.
As the centre is situated in one of the main tourist hotspots, close to the Star Ferry terminal, this one’s really easy to find.
Close by is the famous tree lined shopping street, Nathan Road. Also you can visit Kowloon Park, the 1881 Heritage Centre and the Avenue of Stars.
Slightly further afield, but more impressive, this one is just a little further off the beaten path.
Although, it’s probably not something you’d make a special journey to0 find, however, the easiest way to see the Plaza Hollywood ceiling, we’d suggest tacking it on as a brief detour when visiting Chi Lin Nunnery and/or Nan Lian Gardens, which we include on many of our tours and always on our Vegetarian food tour.
Diamond Hill MTR is the easiest way to get to the nunnery, gardens or mall.
Yim Tin Tsai Abandoned Island
We love taking guests to Yim Tin Tsai. This once abandoned island is being slowly revived as former inhabitants fix up dilapidated buildings. The island boasts a tiny church and several buildings have stained glass windows depicting life on the island.
To get there you’d need to head to the seaside town of Sai Kung and catch a boat.
Bars and Restaurants
Visit the recently revamped Old Central Police Compound, Tai Kwun. Within the complex, you’ll find Dragonfly. This magical bar has beautiful stained glass ceiling lamps and a winged statue presiding over the bar, ensuring it’s as popular with instagrammers as it is with bar goers.
- Dragonfly, Shop 10 – G1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Rd, Central
Cafe Rivoli and Junon sport glass ceilings, in fact Junon has two. Obviously, you should be visiting these places for the food and atmosphere, but pretty glass is a nice bonus.
- Cafe Rivoli is at the Regal Hotel, 88 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
- Junon 2/F Wu Chung House, 213 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong