Map: The Heart of Central, Hong Kong

Begin at the (1) Legislative Council building (8 Jackson Road) in Central (near exit K of the MTR). This neoclassical, 1912 building originally housed the Supreme Court. Today, it is the working chambers of the city's small, partially elected legislature. Facing the road from the tram stop, you will see the (2) HSBC headquarters (1 Queen's Road) across the street, a Norman Foster design completed in 1985, though the bank has occupied the site since the late 1800s. Beyond that, to the left, is (3) I.M. Pei's Bank of China building (1 Garden Road), a 70-story structure of glass prisms that is also part of Hong Kong's iconic skyline. Crossing the street and passing between the two lions guarding the HSBC entrance, you may be able to spot some damage from artillery incurred during World War II, when Japanese troops briefly occupied the city. The passage takes you beneath the bank's central atrium and through to the other side, which will be Queen's Road. Looking straight across the road you will see the brick building housing the (4) Court of Final Appeal (1 Battery Path), which stands out among the high-rise towers around it. Take the passage elevator up to Battery Path, to the front of this 150-year-old brick building, formerly home to the French Mission in Hong Kong.

To the right of the court is (5) St. John's Cathedral (4-8 Garden Road), said to be the oldest Anglican Church in Asia. And, says Pete Spurrier, author of The Leisurely Hiker's Guide to Hong Kong, "the only building in Hong Kong built on freehold land. The rest is leased." When Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese during World War II, the church was used for social gatherings. From the side where St. John's meets Garden Road, turn right and make another right to Lower Albert Road. Pass more government buildings until reaching an intersection with a red-brick building with FCC emblazoned above its entrance. This is the private (6) Foreign Correspondents' Club (2 Lower Albert Road), which traces its history to a journalists' association formed on the mainland of China in 1943. Today, most of the club's members are business people.

Turning left and following Lower Albert Road uphill, you'll find the (7) Fringe Club , an arts venue, at the end of the street. At the corner, cross over onto Wyndham Street and follow the street to the right. Wyndham will turn into Hollywood Road. On your left is what art gallery director John Batten calls "one of the most important complexes of Victorian-era buildings in this part of the world." The earliest buildings in this cluster date from the 1860s. (8) A colonaded courthouse can be seen from this side of Hollywood Road, as well as a number of smaller buildings and the (9) Central Police Station at the corner of Old Bailey and Hollywood.

Continuing along Hollywood Road, cross the street at Lyndhurst Terrace. Turn right down Graham Street. to Central's open-air market. Within a compact few blocks, vendors sell fresh fruits, fish, meats, flowers and sundries. Turn right at Gage Street and continue down for one block. Bear left onto the downward-sloping Cochrane Street and walk to Stanley Street. On the corner to the right is the (10) Good Spring Herbal Pharmacy, dispensing traditional Chinese remedies for 90 years. Join office workers sipping herbal tonics served from ornate brass pots and watch the pharmacists prepare prescriptions with supplies from the wooden cabinets that line the walls.

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