Friday, October 20, 2017

Going Back in Time Visiting Chiang Kai-shek's Taipei Area Homes

Shilin Residence

Nestled in the former Shilin Horticultural Experimental Station established during Japanese colonial rule is the Shilin residence of Chiang Kai-shek. The home is quite large and resembles 1959 style western architecture. While no photographs are allowed inside, on a self-guided tour you will see the rooms with furniture where Chiang Kai-shek and wife Soong Mei-ling spent their time. The home and furnishings are modest by today’s standards but give you an insight how the new Taiwan first family lived. There is a free audio guide available with just a deposit.

Also on the grounds is the Methodist church the Chiangs attended and still in use today and large gardens that includes many roses. The Cadillac limousine used by Madame Chiang is at the entrance eerily out of place. It would be nice to see Taiwan’s historically significant vehicles be preserved and placed in a museum.

Getting there: Take MRT red line to Shilin station then a short walk through the gardens to the residence.

Website link: Shilin_residence

Grass Mountain Chateau on Yangmingshan

This was the first residence of Chiang Kai-Shek and Madam Chiang after coming to Taiwan from being driven from the mainland by the Communists. Taiwan Sugar Corporation originally constructed it to host Japanese dignitaries. It was used by the Chiangs until the Shilin residence was completed.
It is of Japanese architecture consisting of 6 rooms, but in 2007 the Chateau was destroyed by fire so what you see now is a very good recreation. Now it is a multifunctional building consisting of a restaurant, an area for art exhibition, and a display of relics of the Chiangs.

Even though it is a recreation it is still worth a visit to see the view the Chiangs experienced when they first moved here and then seeing the bomb shelter entrance signifying the reality of them being at war with the Communists.

Getting there: Only way to get there is by private car, scooter, or bus.

Website link: Grass_Mountain_Chateau

Zhongxing Guesthouse on Yangmingshan


The Zhongxing Guesthouse also known as the Yangmingshuwu was built in the late 60s to be a guest house of visiting dignitaries and a summer residence for the Chiangs. It commands magnificent views of Taipei below and is surrounded by gardens and forests and is now part of the Yangmingshan National Park. Only guided tours are allowed in the house. The cost for adults is NT$80. Tours are only in Chinese and only leave at 10:00, 11:00, 14:30, and 15:30. Reservations are suggested, call or email one-week ahead.

There is a strong sense of authenticity in this house from the carpet, furniture, and blue bath fixtures. While it is a large house you get a sense of frugality of the occupants. This is one of the Taipei area Chiang Kai-Shek houses that should not be missed.

Getting there: Private car, scooter, or bus.

Website link: Yangmingshuwu

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