Image by John Harper Getty Images
The most photographed building in George Town is this magnificent 38-room, 220-window mansion, built in the 1880s and rescued from ruin in the 1990s. Its distinctive blue-hued exterior (once common in George Town) is the result of an indigo-based limewash.
Hour-long guided tours (included in the admission fee) explain the building's feng shui and unique features, and relate stories about Cheong Fatt Tze, the rags-to-riches Hakka merchant-trader who commissioned the mansion for his seventh (and favourite) wife.
Cheong Fatt Tze left China as a penniless teenager and eventually established a vast financial empire throughout East Asia, earning himself the dual sobriquets 'Rockefeller of the East' and the 'Last Mandarin'.
The Blue Mansion blends Eastern and Western designs with louvred windows, art nouveau stained glass and beautiful floor tiles, and is a rare surviving example of the eclectic architectural style preferred by wealthy Straits Chinese. Rooms within the Blue Mansion have been converted for the use of guests; to enjoy the regal mansion after the crowds leave, make a booking through www.cheongfatttzemansion.com/rooms.