Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang
A Grand Mansion conceived and constructed by a Grand Man; an eminent edifice which History calls Home; a peerless paradigm of the Paradigm Chinese Courtyard House – the Cheong Fatt Tze “Blue” Mansion has been perfectly poised for over a century on firm foundations of architectural, cultural and historic superlatives.
The distinctive blue colour of the mansion is the result of mixing lime with natural blue dye made from the Indigo plant. The blue was very popular in the Colonial period and the dye was imported from India to Penang by the British.
The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion was built over a period of seven year between 1897 and 1904. It was one of the many houses belonging to Cheong Fatt Tze (1840-1916), also known locally as Teow Thiaw Siat, a Chinese of Hakka descent, who was one of the richest men in Southeast Asia, whose property stretched from Java to Sumatra, to Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. But of all these properties, this mansion was his favourite residence. All eight of his sons were raised here and received a Western education at the St Xavier's Institution nearby. The house was also the home for his wives No. 3, 6 and 7.
A Chinese Mandarin of the highest order, a Consul General of the Qing Government, Special Trade Commissioner for South East Asia and a director of China's first modern bank and first railway, Cheong's death was acknowledged with flags flown at half-mast by Dutch and British Colonial Governments of the region. The mansion complex consists of 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 windows which contained stained glass imported from Staffordshire, England, Venetian shutters, Gothic timberworks and Victorian cast ironworks together with gold-leafed timber lattice work and Chinese ceramic decorations on roofs, gables and verandahs. Today, it's a boutique hotel.
Open: Guided tours at 11am and 3pm daily.
This stylish blue mansion was created in the 1880s, the owner a rags-to-riches story. It is now a museum and a hotel that gives us a good view to life a hundred years ago in Georgetown. There are interesting guided tours and it's a nice shady break from the bustle of town. It is featured in countless TV travel shows.
This mansion which was owned by one of the richest Chinese businessmen in Penang has been lovingly restored. All visitors have to follow a guided tour which are at 11am and 3pm. The guide filled us in on many interesting facts and stories that really made the whole place come alive for us. It is all the more impressive as the mansion was restored entirely by private investors and without the support of the government. It seems that for a long time, it was largely derelict as the descendents did not really want anything to do with the place until a couple of Malaysian architects came along with the idea to restore the place using their own money. Interestingly, there are actually rooms which are let out to tourists. Thats something that I would really like to do perhaps on my next trip. This was definitely the major highlight of my trip to Penang.
You can stay here and enjoy the ambience or you can take a guided tour which is given twice a day or you can come here for afternoon tea. Local Style, not scones and cream but laksa, congee and local sweets and curry puff and a very attentive staff and needless to say an extremely good ambience. While having afternoon tea, I met three ladies all working at the UN in New York or elsewhere and that added to the pleasantries of the afternoon..
Into the blue bayou ...
Into the blue sea ...
Well, in this case it's into the blue mansion...
Built by Cheong Fatt Tze in the 19th century, this grand mansion is unique and rich in history. During a recent trip home to Penang, I took the opportunity to join their guided tour to see what this mansion is made of. For RM 12.00 (Malaysian Ringgit), we were escorted around by a grand old dame who's very proud of the heritage of the place she's now showing.
Though a lot of her stories centred on how the mansion was built based on feng shui philosophies, I was more fascinated by the architecture and the aura of this ancient "old dame." During the tour, I overheard a couple talking about how spooky it may be to wander here at night.
Incidentally, the Blue Mansion offers homestay and you'll get the opportunity to stay in rooms which differ from each other and with a story all on its own. Prices start at RM 250.00 (Malaysian Ringgit).
Please see travelogue for more pictures of the Blue Mansion.
You cannot miss the blue painted walls of this imposing heritage building. It is located at Leith Street and triangulated by Chulia Street, Penang Road and Light Street.
The private owners have bought this mansion and restored to building to its original splendour - winning a UNESCO restoration award. It was the 19th century residence of Cheong Fatt Tze, a Hakka immigrant "rags to riches" millionaire who was deputized by the Qing Emperor.
There is a tour twice a day which covers the "fengshui" or geomancy aspects of the building. Upstairs, the glass windows are beautifully restored.
There is also an interesting small souvenir shop. Also refurnished heritage rooms for tourist accommodation with a nice courtyard.
Worthy of a visit for any first timers.
This highly published mansion is really eye catching due to the vibrant cobalt blue paint on the wall. I was so excited when I saw it from the outside. Unfortunately, I went there after the time for guided tour. So, I could only took some pictures and admired the building from the gate. What a disappointment.
To avoid disappointment, come at the guided tour time: 11:00am and 3:00pm. Or call in advance.
By the way, I heard no pictures are allowed inside during the tour.
The architecture is really intricate and detailed, it was mesmerizing! There are 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, 7 staircases, 22 `yin-yang’ windows (wooden shutter- windows, so called because the shutter grooves form the yin and yang symbol when closed), 220 beautiful nouveau glass stain windows and iron cast staircase form the mansion. If you get a really good guide, like Mrs Loh-Lin, you will know that Indian Indigo mixed with lime and cartilage was used to paint its exterior which is why it was also called The Blue Mansion.
If there's only one place to visit in Penang, let it be Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion! You've got to be there to experience it and the power of feng shui of course!
If you have already been to CFT, and you happen to be there again with your friends, tell the man at the door, you will get a discount off your admission ticket, or if you bring a big group, you may even get in free. It's like a repeat customer benefits of some kind.
Historical Guided Tous of the Mansion are held regularly:
Time: 11am and 3pm Daily
The mansion is a wonderful place to see, the guided tour was fascinating. Once inside you can see the cooling blue-indigo walls, beautiful nouveau glass stained windows, all 220 of them, iron cast staircases. The feng shui built mansion is a peaceful place and definately worth the visit.
Guided tours are 12MR per person and are held at 11 am and 3pm
During the excellent tour you get of the mansion (and you need to go on a tour), you learn that Chung Fatt Tze was "the last mandarin, the first capitalist.' The house, and the man are fascinating.
You really shouldn't miss this....it's full of delights, and is a great learning experience and introduction to part of the history of Penang.
I loved visiting Cheong Fatt Tze's favourite home, which has now been restored and is used as a small hotel. If you get the chance, attend the one hour tour at either 11 am or 3pm each day and pay 10rm and you will be rewarded with a very entertaining and informative tour given by a very theatrical Chinese lady who has nothing but the utmost respect for everything the mansion stands for.
The building was designed using Feng Shui principles and is a crazy mix of various turn of the 19 century styles of architecture. Cheong Fatt Tze imported clay floor tiles from Bristol, amazingly colourful Victorian style lead lights from England and he employed master craftsmen from China to carve the intricate woodwork.
There are three dimensional scenes on the outsides of the building decorated with shards of broken glazed pottery. The craftsmanship is amazing and has stood the test of time well. I was only able to take photographs of the outside of the building as internal photography is prohibited. The blue lime wash paint is the original colour, but not the original paintwork.
If you have the opportunity, this is one tour you should not miss.
"The historical Cheong Fatt Tze mansion in Penang became the pride of Malaysia - beating 26 other international entries to secure the Unesco Asia-Pacific's Most Excellent Heritage Project Award. The magnificent structure was restored by architect Laurence Loh and is also known as 'La Maison Bleu' or the Blue Mansion and touted as the best of 18th and 19th century Chinese architecture in Penang."
(New Straits Times, The Star/Asia News Network)
Now, if you think that Kek Lok Si Temple is the best ancient Chinese architecture in Penang, you're sadly wrong. It happens to the strange blue mansion which you barely looked at when you were clubbing in Leith Street. Yes, the one with the faded blue paint. Despite the crummy exterior, the interior of Cheong Fatt Tze mansion is an architectural marvel. God only knows how many times my breath was taken away when I gawked at the ceremic relief paintings, the gold-encrusted wooden frames and the majesty of the spiral staircase. The crummy blue exterior paint which I found out later, happened to be indigo paint which washes off with every rainfall but since the paint is organic, it preserves the "health" of the walls and prevents cracks. Visit this little blue UNESCO gem while you're in Penang. It's surprising isn't it to know that you don't have to fly elsewhere to look at a world heritage architecture?
NOTE:Photography is prohibited of the interior so visit thewebsite below to have a better look.
If you want to see a fine example of an old Chinese house, this building is one of the great example. The house is very rich in details showing the oriental ornaments.
It is now a museum, an important part of Georgetown's heritage trail, but it is also a boutique hotel so you can stay there too.
I didn't manage to go inside - it's open only for a limited time and you can go in only for the guided tour. I don't remember the cost for the tour, probably about RM10 per person.
A striking indigo blue building which you must no miss. The mansion is a famous "feng-shui-perfect" house. It is an old chinese mansion with an old chinese design. There are so many things about this mansion that one will simply be so amazed after a tour of the mansion.
Check out the mansion's ...
- Cooling system
- Feng shui concepts
- stained glass
- History of the restoration and mansion itself
Entrance Fee (including a guided tour) is RM10. 11am or 3pm daily.
Bed and Breakfast available at the mansion.