A major attraction at the Taipei Martyrs' Shrine is the hourly ceremony for the changing of the honor guard in front of the main gate. This happens daily between 09:00 am and 05:00 pm, with the exception of certain public holidays.
Built on a green hillside in 1969, the impressive Taipei Martyrs Shrine was architecturally inspired by the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing's Forbidden City. The shrine is dedicated to the 390,000 soldiers killed in the service of their country during the War of Resistance against Japan and the civil war between the Chinese Republican and communist forces.
The Martyrs Shrine is dedicated to approximately 330,000 men who sacrificed their lives to the overthrowing of the Ching Dynasty before the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911, and who fell during the Sino-Japanese war (1938-1945) and the Chinese Civil war (1945-1949). Plates of these brave and loyal martyrs have been inserted into the four walls of the main building in testimony of their heroic deeds.
Martyr's Shrine has the most impressive show of the Changing of the Guard in all of Taipei. This half-hour long process occurs once an hour, on the hour from 9:00 to 17:00. A total of nine soldiers are involved each time, four of which will stand on guard, four of which will be ending an hour of guard duty. Notice the uniforms of the soldiers here; unlike the soldiers at Chiang Kai-shek and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Halls, they have green uniforms, with tigers (or something like that) on their uniforms instead of Qingtianbaire (Blue sky and white sun). Apparently they are a different branch of the military. At the start of each hour, five soldiers will march out from beside the gate of the shrine and across the large courtyard in the direction of the shrine. Halfway, they stop and there is a display of weaponry; then they continue their march into the shrine, where two of the guards will be changed. Then the procession will return to the gate of the shrine, where the other two guards will be changed. This is quite an impressive sight, especially considering the fact these soldiers have to march for half an hour in the hot and humid Taiwan summer wearing heavy uniforms, then stand absolutely still for an hour in 35 degrees C weather.
Many tour groups will come to the shrine for just half an hour to see the Changing of the Guard, then leave; however, seeing the inside of the shrine is very interesting, so don't miss that, either.
Martyr's Shrine (忠烈祠) (Zhonglietzi) is usually only visited by tourists; you won't see any locals here, since it's quite out of the way. Most people come just to see the impressive Changing of the Guard here, but they miss a good part of what the whole place is about. The most photographed structure of the Martyr's Shrine is a white, gray, and green gate at the entrance of the shrine; but the real shrine is a Ming-dynasty style complex at the other side of a long courtyard. The Martyr's Shrine honors all those who died fighting for the Republic of China.
Very few people visit the actual shrine, where you'll find tablets honoring the Republic of China's war dead (much of them from the second Sino-Japanese War (WWII)). A series of plaques tell of most the incidents in which servicemen died.
I know of three places in Taipei where you can see the Changing of the Guards (Martyr's Shrine, CKS Memorial Hall, and SYS Memorial Hall), and of the three, Sun Yat-sen has the least exciting and least showy one. As with the other two, the Changing of the Guard occurs on the hour; but the guards here get to stand in an air-conditioned hall (unlike the other two places), and they have a very short march. Soldiers will march out a closed-off part of the hall, through a corridor to the main hall, where they give a brief show of weaponry before the guards are replaced. However, it's still impressive to see the guards stand still for a full hour without moving a muscle.
In northern Taipei near the Grand Hotel, you'll find the Martyr's Shrine, dedicated to the many who gave their lives in the Republic of China's 20th century struggles. The honored fought to overthrow the Qing Dynasty, defeat warlords, thwart Japan's invasion, prevent Communist domination or keep Taiwan under Kuomintang rule. Most of the names are unfamiliar to westerners but their actions leave one with the impression that the 20th century was a violent and tragic hundred years for China (an impression that would be accurate).
The architecture of the building is beautiful, but the most important event here is the changing of the guard because children have taken to goose-stepping alongside the stoic soldiers. When I find my pictures from that visit, I'll add a tip on the changing of the guard.
The Martyrs Shrine, resting on the slopes of the Chingshan Mountain & overseeing the Keelung River, is located right next to the Grand Hotel. It was built in 1969 & covers a large area. Its grand & magnificent architectural style is similar to that of the Taihe Dian Imperial Palace in Beijing, Mainland China & symbolizes the martyrs' brave spirit. The National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine is dedicated to the people who sacrificed their lives fighting for the Republic of China. The buildings on this compound are modeled after Ming Dynasty palaces & are skillfully crafted.
More than 33,000 m2 of grass fields surround the structure & protected by the neighboring mountains it breathes a serene atmosphere which even more emphasizes its solemn & stately character. The 330,000 men who sacrificed their lives to the revolution before the establishment of the Republic of China & who fell during the Sino-Japanese war & the Chinese Civil war are worshipped here. Plates of these brave & loyal martyrs have been inserted into the four walls of the main building in testimony of their heroic deeds.
Worth mentioning are the military police officers who guard the main gate & who have been rigidly trained to stand like expressionless statues & remain unmoved by the teasing of tourists. Two military police officers stand guard at the front gate on Bei An Road while two other officers guard the main shrine inside.Tourists alike are amazed at this display of composure & flock to see the ceremonial changing of the guards. The changing of the guards occurs once every hour & is quite an elaborate process. The guards are supposed to remain absolutely silent & still during their shift, but if you watch closely, you can occasionally see their eyes wander. The guard-changing ceremony begins at 9:00 am & the last one is at 4:40 pm.
The military police officers who guard the main gate and the shrine have been rigidly trained to stand like expressionless statues and remain unmoved by the teasing of tourists. Many tourists are amazed at this display of composure and flock to see the ceremonial changing of the guards. The ceremony occurs every hour, begins at 9am to 4.40pm.
We managed to grab hold of an off-duty officer and was told that the officers chosen to be guards are the best performing officers during army camp and they have be at least 180cm in height.
The Martyrs Shrine was built in 1969 to commemorate those brave men that sacrificed for the country. The building's grand and magnificent architectural style is similar to that of the Taihe Dian Imperial Palace in Beijing, Mainland China, and symbolizes the martyrs' brave spirit.
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