There are very few buildings in Taiwan more interesting and artistic than Zhongshan Hall. This unique architecture represents the Republic of China’s political past and the final era of Chiang Kai-Shek, which brought the Republic of China government from China to Taiwan in 1949 after the Chinese Civil War (1927-1949).
A Testament to Chiang Kai-shek’s Legacy
Chiang Kai-shek ordered the construction of Zhongshan Hall to celebrate the hundredth birthday of the Republic of China’s founder, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, in 1965. It took 13 months to build such a majestic building. However, many experts say Zhongshan Hall is ahead of its time due to its technique and excellence. It is the only building directly built among the thermal valley in the world. The thermal area is still active, and visitors can see the sulfuric gas coming out of the ground.
A Palace of Beauty and Grandeur
Zhongshan Hall is located in the Beitou district of New Taipei City. The total area of Zhongshan Hall is more than 130,000 square meters, including a huge garden. The main building has 18,000 square meters of space. The building is surrounded by beautiful landscaping and was specially designed by the prestigious architect Hsiu Tse-lan. On the reverse side of Taiwan’s 100 NTD banknote, you can see a picture of Zhongshan Hall. From 1966 to 2005, Zhongshan Hall was used as the meeting venue of the National Assembly. Starting from 2005, it has been used for hosting special ceremonies and for tourism purposes.
Inside the building, it resembles a palace with beautifully designed details, such as colorful walls and ancient-style pillars from Chinese history. Once you enter from the main door, there is a statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The first floor has two big rooms on each side. The main color of the interior design is red because red symbolizes prosperity and good fortune. The design is based on Chinese style, with over 400 handcrafted palace lanterns, mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, ceiling designs, doors and windows, and color drawings of pillars.
Visitors can join tours to understand how Zhongshan Hall was built and the stories behind these walls. A basic tour of the historic building requires one hour. During the guided tour, you can see marble stairs with intricate carvings, a Chinese-style colorful ceiling, antique lamps revealing beauty, a traditional and magnificent meeting hall, and many paintings by famous painters. While exploring the interior, do not forget to visit the room of Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong May-ling. There is even a big room with maps in which Chiang Kai-shek made plans for recapturing Mainland China with his army.
Embracing Feng Shui Principles
When they decided to build Zhongshan Hall, the architect and designers all followed Feng Shui principles. Feng Shui literally translates to ‘wind and water.’ The practice aims to promote harmony and happiness through design. That’s why the building is backed by Qixing Mountain with a view of Taipei City in front of it. The building itself directly faces two historical buildings, which are Yuan Shan Hotel and the Presidential Office. These two buildings were favorite places of Chiang Kai-shek back in time.
Symbolism and Meaningful Design Elements
Another very interesting detail of the design is that every step of the stair is sealed with the Chinese character ‘壽’ (shou, long-lived). You can see ‘福’ (fu, blessing or happiness) Chinese characters carved on lamp holders. Putting Chinese characters in the building is because Zhongshan Hall was dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat-sen. That’s why you can see the idea of “lucky and auspicious” added into architectural details, including the handrail of the stairs from the first to third floors, where a total of 100 peaches (壽桃), objectified representations of long-lived, are carved out of marble.
A Timeless Icon of Taiwan’s Cultural Heritage
The director of Zhongshan Hall, Ms. Tsao Sui-ying, says, “Zhongshan Hall is 57 years old but still looks pretty solid and clean because of our efforts for protection. Every year, we spend more than 300,000 USD for the maintenance of this building. It is a cultural heritage and attracts so many visitors because of its luxurious and elegant design. Zhongshan Hall represents kindness and prosperity. We welcome everyone to come here and witness one of the unique architectural gems of Taiwan.”