Built in 1969 to remember the 330,000 lives lost during the Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War and prior to the establishment of Republic of China, Taipei’s National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine showcase a spacious and grand architectural style, which according to most literature comparable to Taihe Dian Imperial Palace in Beijing.
Like many tourist, visiting the Martyrs’ Shrine is more than the appreciation of its aesthetic grandeur or to pay respect to the fallen service men but a chance to photograph the straight-faced military guards and as they change shifts every hour, following an elaborate marching ceremony.
I wanted to see the first ceremony which usually starts at 9 am, on the hope that it will be less crowded and to avoid getting fried under the sweltering Taipei summer heat. Arriving 10 minutes ahead, already there were loads of buses with Japanese and Chinese tourist, I guess my selected timing is the most recommended by tour operators.
We were allowed to enter the premise but requested to fall in line at the side, to give space and not to interrupt the military guards as they walk from the gate to the main hall. You can only imagine how everyone was fighting for the perfect spot running from one end to another.
Once they reached the main hall, two guards were left behind. They will be standing there for one hour guarding the shrine. They will stand there like mannequins and let the tourist like me photograph every angle of their faces.
With the heavy military clothing and arm rifle, sweats are dripping of their faces but obviously they were not allowed to move. Another non-uniform, off-duty, white polo-shirt clad personnel will be their company, wiping their sweats to at least make them comfortable and to control the visitors who might be incline to touch or stand to close to the guards.
After the ceremony, most of the tourist left Martyrs’ Shrine. I’m glad that I decided to stay behind and wander around. Most visitors missed out the marvelous buildings inside the main hall and the poignant commemoration of the men of war.
Located at the slopes of Qing Mountain and overseeing Keelung River, Taipei’s National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine magnificent architecture and the changing of the guards ceremony is only one of the many reason why you should consider Taipei on your bucket list.