The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is known far and wide as one of the top tourist draws in Taipei, if not in all of Taiwan. Part of a visit is strolling across the Liberty Square, taking pictures of the memorial hall at the far end, opposite the magnificent archway entrance at the other end, and of the National Theater and National Concert Hall on either side. If interested in what the two grand classical Chinese palace-style buildings look like on the inside, sign up for a one-hour guided tour!
Text and Photos: Vision
All you need to do to join a tour is make a reservation online at npac-ntch.org/en/tour/intro (click on the Reservation Online tab). You can also make reservations by phone at ( 3393-9888). These must be made one week in advance. Currently, tours are available Monday through Friday at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm (10 or more people need to sign up for each tour). Tickets for adults are NT$100 (discount tickets for members of larger groups, etc., are NT$70). An English-speaking tour guide can be arranged by calling the aforementioned number in advance.
During the tour you will learn many a fascinating fact about these two international-caliber arts venues: the history, the layout, the artwork that adorns the walls, the materials used in their construction, and much more. You also get to see some of the areas that are off-limits to ordinary visitors, including the lounges provided to VIP guests. Unless there are rehearsals going on at the time of your tour, you might even be taken into the auditoriums, where you can learn about such things as the seating arrangements, the stages, the giant organ in the concert hall, and the massive stage curtain in the theater.
In the foyers of both houses you will learn about the sculptures, chandeliers, walls adorned with plants, giant drums, and more, and in the basements you will be shown the restaurants, cafés, and gift shops. A steady stream of fascinating info tidbits flow from your guide as you move along, such as the origin of the marble widely used in the floors and columns and what’s behind the cute mythical figures on the roofs of both buildings.
Tip: When crossing the square to get from the theater to the concert hall, make sure to do one thing (and for this you don’t need to go on a guided tour). Find the spot that is at the exact center of the square, and look for a round spot in the tile pattern. There, clap your hands to experience an amazing echo effect.
Getting there: Simply take the MRT (Taipei Metro) Tamsui-Xinyi Line to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station (two stations from Taipei Main Station) and follow the signs to the square. The meeting point for the guided tours is at the ground floor information desk at the National Theater (Door No. 1, Aiguo East Road side).