Stand in Central district’s Statue Square and you’re right in the region’s financial, political, historical and social heart. Among the steel and glass of sleek skyscrapers surrounding the square are a few colonial remnants, including the handsome Neo-Classical Legislation Council Building where Hong Kong’s usually low-key political demonstrations take place. Shopping, a much more popular Hong Kong pursuit than politics, goes on inside the swanky boutiques opposite.

Suffocating Suffrage

During Handover negotiations , China was adamant that Hong Kong’s Legislative Council would be as democratic under Chinese rule as under the British (in other words, it could be argued, hardly at all). When Chris Patten, the last governor, tried introducing greater representation, China dubbed Patten, among other things, “a strutting prostitute” and “serpent”.

For a terrific bird’s-eye view over Central and the harbour, head to the viewing gallery on the 43rd floor of the Bank of China Tower.

If you fancy picnicking in the square or in nearby Chater Garden, try the fantastic pastries, cakes and quiches from the Mandarin Oriental’s Cake Shop, which is at the edge of the square.

Top 10 Sights
  1. Bank of China Tower

    Looming over the HSBC building is the imposing 70-storey Bank of China Tower. It was designed by the renowned architect I M Pei. The tower is a dizzying 368 m (1,207 ft) high. It doesn’t please everyone – those who know about feng shui say it projects negative vibes onto other buildings.

    Bank of China Tower
  2. Shopping Malls

    Two of Hong Kong’s most upmarket and, of course, pricey shopping malls – the busy Landmark Centre and the less busy Prince’s Building – sit next to Statue Square. Within these hallowed temples to conspicuous overspending are many of the city’s most exclusive and elegant boutiques, including the likes of Armani, Gucci and Prada.

  3. The Cenotaph

    Standing at the northern edge of Statue Square, the Cenotaph is a memorial to those who died in the two World Wars.

  4. Chater Garden

    Despite the prime real-estate value on the site of what used to be the old pitch of the Hong Kong Cricket Club, the small but well-tended Chater Garden sprang up instead of a skyscraper. It’s free to enter and makes a good place to enjoy a cold drink and rest tired legs.

  5. Court of Final Appeal

    Behind the HSBC building, a handsome 150-year-old redbrick building used to house a French Catholic mission and the old colony’s first Government House. Today it serves as one of Hong Kong’s courts of law.

  6. The Legislative Council Building

    One of Hong Kong’s last remaining colonial buildings, the elegant Neo-Classical Legislative Council building, which used to house the Supreme Court, now serves as Hong Kong’s parliament.

  7. Mandarin Oriental

    It’s hard to believe, but the Mandarin Oriental was once Hong Kong’s tallest building. Today its graceful exterior seems overwhelmed by the ceaseless traffic, but inside it’s still one of Hong Kong’s finest hotels.

  8. Thomas Jackson Statue

    Appropriately enough, one of Hong Kong’s few remaining statues, of a 19th-century banker, is in Statue Square. The Japanese army removed one of Queen Victoria, which gave the square its name.

    Thomas Jackson statue
  9. HSBC Bank Headquarters

    On its completion in 1985, Sir Norman Foster’s bold building was the most expensive ever built, costing more than HK$5bn. The edifice is said to have the strongest feng shui in Hong Kong. Rubbing the paws of the bank’s handsome lions is said to bring good luck.

  10. Sunday Filipino Fiesta

    Hundreds of young Filipinos and Indonesians, mostly domestic workers enjoying their only day off, occupy almost every spare bit of public space in Central.

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