Thursday, March 04, 2010

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Office of the President, Taipei, Taiwan

3/04/2010 Taiwan Explorer

It was quite a hot day last week, when I decided to see the famous Office of the President of the Republic of China 中華民國總統府. I took a walk from the Taipei Main Station and first saw the Shin Kong Life Tower, took some photos of it and moved on. A very kind young guy helped me with the directions. It was a long walk, but when I finally saw the building from afar, I was very happy. The closer I got, the more impressive it was. The roads around the buildings are wide and huge, they are real boulevards, but not as crowded as the ones in other parts of the city.

The area around the palace

There's a lot of security around the area. Police on all corners, there were even some military vehicles parked nearby. Young men are guarding the building, they're armed and in uniforms. But there are also another kind of security, which look like secret service agents. They are positioned on many crucial points around the building and wear casual clothes with ear phones (just like in the movies). They look at everyone very suspiciously, but that's their job. I felt like a spy with my camera and frankly a bit intimidated. Firstly because of the impressive building and secondly, because of the huge security and how they looked at me. They're definitely serious, keep that in mind. When I saw all that, I thought it must be the most secured building in whole Taiwan and I wondered, how many snipers were pointed at me. I walked slowly with my Pentax and took only few photos. There weren't many tourists, I only saw one Japanese man that day.

A brief history of the building

The Presidential Office Building of the Republic of China today is the former Governor-General's Office 台灣總督府 during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945). The building was designed by two Japanese architects. The architectural competition was won by Uheiji Nagano 長野宇平治, but his design didn't feature today's impressive tower. That tower was later added by Matsunosuke Moriyama 森山松之助, who became the construction division director at the Governor General’s Office site (read more about Moriama here; Taipei Times, 28. Dec, 2009). The construction began in 1912 and ended 1919.
Moriama is also known for designing the nearby Guest House, the former residence of the Governor-General 台灣總督官邸 under Japanese rule. During the WWII the building was heavily damaged by allied air raids. Since 1950 the building houses the President of the ROC (Taiwan). An image of the neo-Baroque palace is depicted on the very rare 200 NTD banknote. Read more about the building's history, design and renovations on the official website of the President of ROC.

See my photos of the Presidential Office Building:

A side view.

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