Tourist Attractions in Taiwan: Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial HallDestinations
Taiwan is slowly becoming recognized for its tourism opportunities as travelers now realize the number of great attractions and sights found here on the island. One of the must-see sights in Taipei is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall located in downtown Taipei. Built to honor the deceased President of the Republic of China (ROC), the memorial hall sits in the center of beautifully manicured grounds, flanked on either side by the National Theater and National Concert Hall.
History of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Chiang Kai-shek became the first President of the Republic of China after fleeing mainland China. After he passed away in 1975, the Executive branch of the government decided to build a memorial on his behalf. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on the deceased leader's 90th birthday, October 31, 1976. The memorial hall opened to the public in 1980, on the fifth anniversary of Chiang Kai-shek's death.
Architectural Design of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
The whole complex was completed in two phases. The first phase encompassed the building of the Hall, pavilions, verandah, and other related sites. The second phase of construction included the National Theater, National Concert Hall, and an underground parking lot completed in 1987.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (© Erin De Santiago)
There were three underlying concepts of the design:
- To express the spirt of Chinese culture
- An innovative design in a unique and grande style
- The utilization of modern construction technology, with emphasis on economy and practical use
The memorial hall was designed by Yao Cho-cheng, whose design was chosen in a competition. The main hall is a large white building, topped with blue tiles. Combined with nearby red flowerbeds, the hall resembles the colors of the Taiwan flag. The roof of the hall is an octagon, which is also symbolic. Traditionally, many Asian cultures associate the number 8 with good fortune. The roof design has motifs on the top, which symbolize the "unification of man and Heaven." The roof is said to form the Altar to Heaven and the blue glazed tiles reflect the sunlight. The color of the white sun and blue sky symbolize equality and freedom. The downstairs of the hall houses several exhibits on the life and career of Chiang Kai-shek.
The hall has two sets of stairs, each with 89 steps, representing the age of Chiang Kai-shek at the time of his death. Atop the stairs sits the memorial statute. The statue of Chiang Kai-shek is dressed in traditional Chinese clothing. Chinese inscriptions on the wall are the characters for Ethics, Democracy, and Science. During operating hours, there are hourly changing of the guard ceremonies that draw large crowds.
Changing of the Guards Ceremony and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Statue (© Erin De Santiago)
National Concert Hall and National Theater
The National Concert Hall and National Theater comprise the National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center. The buildings are spectacular examples of Chinese architecture. The design on both is a large white base, dark red columns, bright multi-colored eves, and a furled bright yellow glass tiled roof. Currently, both halls hold performances of varying types, and are recognized as having superior lighting, sound, and staging, bringing in over 500,000 people annually. The ingenious acoustical design controls not only outside noise, but allows guests to hear what is happening on the stage, whether or not microphones and speakers are in use.
National Concert Hall (© Erin De Santiago)
Location and Directions to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Grounds
The Memorial Hall is located at 21 Zhongshan South Road, in Taipei (100). The phone number is (02) 2343-1100. Visitors can either drive to CKS Hall, take a taxi cab, or the website lists a number of buses that provide transportation to the Hall. One of the most convenient ways to visit this area is on the local MRT system as there is a station for CKS Memorial Hall that drops you off right at the entrance.
The Memorial is free to tour and is open daily from 9am until 6:30pm. The changing of the guard ceremonies take place hourly from 10am until 4pm, and until 6pm on Wednesdays. The National Concert Hall is open daily from noon until 9pm, and the National Theater is open from noon until 8pm.
Entrance to CKS Memorial Grounds with Chiang Kai-shek Hall, National Theater, and National Concert Hall Visible (© Erin De Santiago)