Aside from its tallest building – Taipei 101, Taipei is not a city very well known for its iconic buildings. However, as any visitor to Taiwan’s capital will soon discover, Taipei’s cityscape is a wonder of architectural masterpieces, both new and old. Here are eight of the most impressive.
Completed in 2004, Taipei 101 held the record as the tallest building in the world for four years and was, and in fact, still is, an incredible boon to the local tourist industry. It also once held the world record for the world’s fastest elevators – they go from bottom to top in 37 seconds. From high-end boutiques to the highest Starbucks in the world, there’s plenty to do and see at this former record holder.
Second only to Taipei 101 as the most visited building in Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek (C.K.S.) Memorial Hall is an impressive monument dedicated to former Taiwanese military leader Chiang Kai Shek. Housing a statue of the man himself with a honor guard from the Chinese army, a museum, post office, restaurant, and an exhibition area, this place checks all the boxes for a perfect first stop on a tourist’s itinerary. Morning, noon, and night, the photo ops at this site are amazing.
Located in Liberty Square just a few steps from C.K.S. Memorial Hall are the city’s twin buildings dedicated to the performing arts. Completed in 1987, the venues are so similar in appearance that tourists often assume they are identical, but there are actually quite significant differences between the two, especially with regard to the roofs. Be sure to check them out at night – the lights are pretty spectacular.
As the most recognizable hotel in Taiwan, The Grand Hotel dominates the skyline over Yuanshan. Established in 1952 but not completed fully until 1973, this building has been the setting for meetings between local heads of state and foreign dignitaries on many occasions. Said to have secret tunnels built for Chiang Kai Shek and an escape slide, this five-star hotel is stately opulence at its best.
Another memorial on the list and this time it’s one dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat-sen who is often described as the father of Taiwan. Here, tourists can witness the changing of an honor guard every hour and view various artifacts from Sun’s life. The building is impressive in its size and design and is another fine example of modern construction heavily influenced by traditional architecture.
The twisting eco-friendly building that is Tao Zhu Yin Yuan Tower is a new addition to the Taipei skyline. Located just a stone’s throw from Taipei 101, this residential complex is unique in design, and although it is private property, it’s well worth taking a look at the exterior. Its goal is to be one of the greenest buildings in Taiwan, and as it will be eventually covered from top to bottom in trees, it’s not hard to imagine it succeeding in doing so.
Home to one of the largest collections of Chinese imperial artifacts, the National Palace Museum is an obvious tourist hotspot. But what many don’t realize until they reach the museum site in Shilin is that the building itself is stunning in its design and construction. In fact, it is often noted by tourists that it resembles a genuine palace with many surprised that it was only built in the 1960s.
Taipei is home to a number of incredible temples, but the one at Longshan is perhaps the most iconic. Built by settlers from the Chinese province of Fujian, it was intended as a place to gather and worship and throughout the centuries has remained the heart of the local community. It survived an Allied air raid during the Second World War and ever since local residents have taken it upon themselves to renovate and maintain this magnificent building.