Friday, December 21, 2012

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National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine, Taipei

12/21/2012 Taiwan Explorer

National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine 國民革命忠烈祠 in Taipei is a shrine dedicated in honor and memory of the soldiers of the Republic of China, who died during the Xinhai revolution, World War II, Chinese Civil war and two Cold War Straits Crisis with People's Republic of China - all these events took place between 1911 and 1958. The shrine complex is a solemn place, but it's also open to visitors, so if you're interested in the history of Republic of China, you should visit the Martyrs' Shrine along with the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

History of the Martyrs' Shrine

Today's Taipei Martyrs' Shrine was built in 1969. It used to stand on the site of the former Taiwan Huguo Shrine 臺灣護國神社 (Huguo 護國 literally means "Protect the nation, country"). The shrine was built in 1942 during the war and was dedicated to soldiers, who died for the Japanese Empire, among them Taiwanese. After World War II and Taiwan's retrocession to Republic of China the temple was demolished and replaced with a Chinese shrine, but it was much smaller than the one of today.

Images of the Taiwan Huguo Shrine

Very few images of the Huguo Shrine are found online, I had to search some Taiwanese and Japanese forums to find the sources. Here are a few, that will give you an idea:

The original Huguo Shrine in the 1940s (photo source)

The main hall of the Huguo Shrine also in the 1940s (photo source).

The gate to the Martyrs' Shrine in 1966 during the visit of US vice president Hubert Humphrey (photo source). Today's neo-classical Chinese gate was built 3 years later.

The Martyrs' Shrine today

Today's complex is one of best examples of neo-classical Chinese architecture in Taiwan and a huge tourist spot. The photos below are from my last visit in December 2012, but because the main gate was under renovation, I am using my wife's photos from July 2010 for that part. Since it was sunny in both cases, I believe that very few of you would've noticed, that the photos are two years apart.

There is a roundabout right in front of the main gate.

This is a series of photos from 2010.

The main gate is one of the most impressive ones I've ever seen.

A closeup.

Soldiers on guard.

These soldiers have to stand still for 1h hour, imagine that. No movements are allowed. They have someone, who wipes of the sweat from their faces on hot summer days. Every full hour there is a changing of the guards ceremony. The soldiers, who get the honor of being guards here need to meet some qualifications: No criminal history, at least a high school education, they have to be between 175cm - 195cm tall, weigh 65kg (± 1kg) and need to have a lot of discipline (source). As you can imagine, only the best of the best are eligible to guard one of the most important memorial places in Taiwan a.k.a. ROC.

The main gate from the inside.

Changing of the guards ceremony from 2010.

Marching towards the gate.

This is the series of photos from 2012.

A small house on the left.

A small house on the right.

This is the main gate to the main hall complex.

A pavilion on the left. There is another one on the right.

Two lions are guarding the shrine.

A soldier.

There were lots of Japanese visitors that day. And although there was a sign in Japanese language, that asked them to be quiet and respectful, they were nonstop giggling and bothering the soldier on guard. They should've shown more respect.

An image from the Xinhai Revolution.

A detail from the ceiling.

And then I finally saw the majestic Main Hall.

If you want to see more photos of the Main hall and learn about the history, check:

• My photos of the Main Hall of Taipei's Martyrs' Shrine>>

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Pinyin: Guómín Gémìng Zhōngliècí
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