Walk Where Art and History Shine on Hong Kong’s Hollywood RoadBy Robin Bennefield
To get to the heart of Hong Kong’s history, you must start in Old Town Central, where colonial buildings stand next to temples and networks of narrow streets climb up and dip down Hong Kong’s hilly topography. Hollywood Road is the main thoroughfare into the city’s past and present, and it leads to unexpected juxtapositions of historical landmarks alongside whimsical street art.
If you’re a local, you’ll never tire of spotting some new mark of creativity or getting lost in time while wandering along this iconic street.
Start your Hollywood Road walk at Tai Kwun. The former British magistrate complex is the perfect place to explore Hong Kong’s past and present.
Now a culture and heritage center, the UNESCO award-winning space houses historic exhibits as well as contemporary and performing arts venues, the JC Contemporary and the JC Cube.
Stand in the center of the complex’s main courtyard, the prison yard or the parade grounds to see Hong Kong’s surrounding skyscrapers cocoon around the cream and red-brick colonial buildings — a vantage point that makes for interesting photos. You may even get snapshots of outdoor art by the likes of Takashi Murakami.
Shelley Street Murals
Continue east along Hollywood to Shelley Street, which is marked by the Mid-Levels Escalators, the longest covered outdoor escalators in the world.
Step up to take a ride and keep your eyes peeled for a show of murals unfurling alongside you, or just walk along Shelley Street for an up-close look at the works painted onto the escalator and shop walls, like the fantastical pasta noodles.
The marigold-, tangerine- and lime-colored tenement buildings painted along the wall at 45-53 Graham Street may be the most photographed anywhere in Hong Kong. This is absolutely the perfect spot for a selfie.
The mural is an iconic example of the city’s street art painted by Hong Kong–based artist Alex Croft in 2012, commissioned by the nearby G.O.D. (Goods of Desire) store, which sells some pretty inspired local clothing, housewares and art.
Graham Street is at the center of a cluster of murals off Hollywood Road. On Peel Street, the next street over, a Brazilian diva named Uma Nota smiles out from a pastel pink wall with a toucan perched on her shoulder. The mural graces the outside of the Brazilian–Japanese fusion restaurant of the same name.
Across Hollywood Road, you can’t miss pop art-style figures of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra looking down from above.
The acronym PMQ stands for Police Married Quarters. The former barracks for police officers on Aberdeen Street is another historic landmark transformed into an arts complex, offering an outdoor courtyard and open marketplace showcasing the work of local artists and artisans in pop-up shops. Pause here to peruse studios or pick up a sweet treat.
Man Mo Temple
Let the fragrant scent of incense burning from gold coiled vessels waft over you inside the largest Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong, dating back to roughly 1847.
While dedicated to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo), this is where worshippers pray for success, peace and prosperity by leaving paper offerings, fruit (Chinese mandarins for luck) and vegetables (lettuce for wealth).
Keep your camera phone in your pocket out of respect while inside the temple, but back outside on Hollywood Road, marvel at this example of Qing dynasty architecture nestled against Hong Kong’s modern surroundings.
Off Hollywood Road, beyond Antique Street, walk up this narrow, street-art-lined staircase, past the painted gaze of a mosaic-like woman and a cartoon-faced dumpling, to ultimately worship a mural of one of Hong Kong’s heroes, Bruce Lee — the fury of his fists and hands captured powerfully by South Korean graffiti artist Xeva.