I thought it will be nice to start off my series of Taiwan posts with the introduction of one of their oldest, yet still voted as most visited tourist attraction of Taipei City; 中正纪念堂, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.
The memorial hall was built in commemoration of Taiwan's first President and leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party, Mr Chiang Kai-Shek. I'm skipping the historical details and going straight into marvelling the beauty of its grand, solemn structure with clean, white concrete walls and blue-tiled rooftop.
If you are interested to find out more about the leader's life, there is a museum at the ground floor of the hall that is mostly free-of-charge.
You will reach the inner hall after walking up the flight of stairs, where the huge bronze statue of Mr Chiang sits surrounded by marbled walls. The ceiling is lit to a glorious gold where the white sun, symbol of the party flag is painted in the middle.
Every hour, there will be a change of guard parade, where a commander will lead the two fresh guards to perform a 10-minutes drill to replace the outgoing ones. As the bronze statue silently looked on this well-polished tradition, tourists are impressed by their neatness and accuracy.
As Taiwan also adopts a conscript system where young males are to serve for at least 16 months, can you imagine his relief when he finally ORD?
As you step out of the inner hall, you once again face the Freedom Square with its tranquility and peaceful atmosphere. I know the grounds at Beijing's Forbidden City are probably much wider and breathtaking than this, but for me, I could just silently stand here and admire the surroundings for a long long time.
The two red buildings at the background are the National Theatre and National Concert Hall, although I still can't remember which is which since they look almost identical.
Since you are here, why not take a look at the Presidential Palace? Walk through the huge facade, turn right and walk until you hit a big roundabout. Turn left and walk straight down the ultra wide Ketagalan Boulevard (凯达格兰大道) to reach it. I think there is a interior tour available, but restricted to certain timing and days only.
And there you have it, the number 1, must-visit historical attraction of Taipei. Hope you will be awed by it too!
中正纪念堂 Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Directions: Take the MRT red line and alight at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station, there should be an exit pointing right to the place, walk out and you can't miss it.