Day 1, stop 2: The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

 

Four metro stations stops away brought me to the spot I needed to be—the second stop on day one’s Taiwan adventure—the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

It is the closest major tourist attraction from Longshan Temple and a must-see for every first time visitor to the city, I was told. Therefore, I must go and check it out.

 

CSK metro station in Taipei
The MRT CSK Station

 

The southeast gate to CSK compound
MRT CSK Station Exit 5 leads to the southeast entrance of the CKS Memorial Hall

 

If there was a warning about the place, it was to bring an umbrella, and stepping on the property, I understood why.

 

Front gate of the Liberty Square in Chiang Kai-Shel Memorial Hall cmpound
The entrace gate to the Liberty Square

 

The memorial hall grounds is a vast open space, a V-A-S-T one, dominated by the Democracy Square, a 240,000 square meter public plaza that serves as a major site for public gatherings, one of the most significant was the role it played in 1990 when Taiwan shifted from one-party rule to modern democracy.

 

 

Two other landmarks flank the plaza, the National Concert Hall and the National Theater. The perspective of the red structures direct the vision to the blue and white edifice at the far end of the property- the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

 

National Theater building at the CSK Memorial compound
Th rear view of the National Theater building at the CSK compound

 

To make it short, it’s a long walk from the gate to the east end, where the memorial hall is, and may seem even farther trekking under the blistering heat of the Taiwan sun, thus a parasol’s necessity.

But the weather was good to me. Overcast sky offered a shield from the sun’s rays. As to the heat and humidity, there’s no escaping that.

 

Chiang Kai shek Memorial Hall
The Chiang Kai shek Memorial Hall

 

Architect Yang Cho-cheng designed Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which broke ground on the 90th birthday of Chiang, on October 31st, 1976, and opened to the public on April 5, 1980, the fifth death anniversary of the honoree, with details honoring life events of the former President of the Republic of China and the Chinese traditional architecture.

 

The front design of the memorial hall
Cascading water at the center of the sets of stairs leading up to the hall

 

The blue and white colors of the edifice represent “Blue Sky and White Sun” of the ROC’s national emblem; the structure’s square base matches the impartial (zhong) and righteous (zheng) characters of the late president’s name; the roof is octagonal (8-sided), and the number eight is associated with good fortune and abundance, and its shape takes it shape from “ren”, the character for “person”, and points skywards to represent “the joining of heaven and man”; and the two sets of white stairs that lead to the main entrance each have 89 steps, representing Chiang’s age before he passed away.

 

89 steps going up to the Chiang Kai-shek hall
One of the 2 sets of stairs with 89 steps based on Chiang Kai-shek’s age before he passed awayJPG

 

scholl children on a field trip at CSK Memorial Hall
The stairs are happier with children on it

 

From the concourse at the top level (the fourth floor) of the memorial offers a panoramic view of the grounds, a greener one this time.

 

View of the compound from the CSK memorial hall
The view of the compund with the National Concert Hall and the National Theater from the 4th level concourse of the memorial hall

 

Through the arched doorway is the main hall, where the 6.3-meter bronze seated statue of Chiang Kai-shek, weighing 21.25 tons, is the dominant figure. Engraved on the wall behind are Chiang’s words, the central ideas of The Three Principles of the People— “ethics, democracy and science”; and on the marble pillars on both sides of the statue—“The purpose of living is to improve the living of whole human beings; the meaning of life to create the proceeding life.”

 

The bronze statue of Chiang Kai -shek in the memorial hall
The 6.3 meter bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek

 

Door of the Chiang Kai Shek hall on the 4th level
From the inside of the main hall looking out

 

My arrival was just in time for the changing of the guards, which happens every hour on the hour from 9AM to 6PM daily, except designated holidays. It’s a good ceremony to catch.

 

Changing of the guards happen every hour at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Changing of the guards happen every hour on the hour daily

 

Scheduled changing of the guards at Chiang Kai-Shel memorial hall
The changing of the guards at the main hall

 

An impressive collection of artworks by local artists is exhibited at the third level’s Zhi Qing Exhibition Hall and Cai Yu Art Gallery.

 

Model of the Chiang Kai-Shel memorial compound
A miniature model of the CKS memorial hall compound at the 4th level exhibit room

 

Exhibition hall at the 3rd level of the CSK memorial hall
The Zhi Qing Exhibition Hall on the 3rd level

 

Zhi Qing Exhibition Hall in the CSK Memorial Hall
Zhi Qing Exhibition Hall on the 3rd level

 

3rd level exhibition area of Chiang Kai-Shel Memorial Hall
Scrolls on exhibit on the 3rd level

 

On the ground level, the museum and library documents the life and career of Chiang Kai-shek, the Republic of China-era Chinese history, and Taiwan’s history and development.

 

A painting by Hsu Chui-lin of Chian Kai-shek & Sun Yat-sen,
A painting by Hsu Chui-lin of Chian Kai-shek & Sun Yat-sen, on board the train from Guangzhou to Shaogun in preparation for the Northern Expedition

 

Mock-up office of Chiang Kai-Shel
A replica of Chiang’s working space

 

Philippine medal awarded to Chiang Kai-shek
The Grand Collar of the Order of SIkatuna, the National Order of the Philippines, conferred upon those who provided great service to the country, awarded to CHiang in September 1956

 

painting of Chiang Kai Shek with his mom
Mother & son. A painting of Chiang Kai-shek with him mother

 

Chiang's official state car from 1972-1975
Chiang’s official state car from 1972-1975, a1972 GM-manufactured 4-door, 7-seater Cadillac

 

This stop is quite an interesting one and may I suggest that you spare a good number of hours to enjoy what the place offers when you do visit. May I add that the very cool interior temperature makes for a good escape from the outdoor heat.

To get there: The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall train station is an MRT stop of both the Red Line 2 and Green Line 3. Exit 5 leads to the southeast entrance of the CKS Memorial Hall.

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit ofapplesandlemons.com and jeepneyjinggoy.com

Also published in SunStar Davao newspaper.

 

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