A full-on ceremony is great way to start a day, so on our first morning in Taipei we headed off to the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.
The complex surrounds Liberty Square and includes the hall itself, grand entrance gates, magnificent gardens, the National Theatre, the National Concert Hall and—drum roll—the hourly Changing of the Guards.
Our timing was perfect. After strolling around the grounds and seeing people practicing a dance in front of the Concert Hall, we headed up the steps that led to the main hall. The place was packed.
Within a few minutes and without any announcement, the surging crowd began to drift to the edges of the massive room. That’s when we realised the Changing of the Guards was about to begin. Before long an official and a volunteer (yellow vest) began to extend the barriers. Then, to our amusement, the official straightened the uniforms of the two guards currently on duty.
At 10am sharp, three uniformed men appeared—two new guards and their escort. They marched in slowly and deliberately with arms swinging in precision, knees lifted high, and a fair bit of heel clicking and foot stomping.
When the five guards were lined up in front of Chiang Kai-Shek’s statue, there was more foot stomping and heel clicking, along with several displays of rifle twirling. The whole ceremony lasted 11 minutes.
No doubt it is a great honour to be part of the the Changing of the Guards. The task is rotated among members of Taiwan’s main forces—the Army, Air Force, Navy and Military Police.
About the Memorial Hall
The hall was built to honour President Chiang Kai-Shek, a Chinese nationalist politician, revolutionary and military leader. He led the Republic of China from 1928 to 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and then in Taiwan until his death.
Designed by architect Yang Cho-cheng, the hall has three platforms, the main hall and the large roof. The 89 steps that lead to the hall represent Chiang’s age when he died. The hall looks out on Liberty Square and the national concert hall and theatre.
The roof is shaped like the Chinese character for person. Its blue colour, along with the white of the hall, depict Taiwan’s national emblem of ‘Blue Sky and White Sun’. Inside, the ceiling shows the emblem.
The bronze statue of Chiang Kai-Shek is 6.3 metres tall and weighs more than 21 tonnes. It was made by Chen Yifan.
The hall includes exhibition spaces and a museum dedicated to Chiang Kai-Shek.
P.S. Not all pics have captions.