Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Top choice monument in Zhongzheng

Image by ak_phuong Getty Images

This grandiose monument to authoritarian leader Chiang Kai-shek is a popular attraction and rightly so. It is a sobering feeling standing in the massive courtyard. Chiang's blue-roofed hall is a prime example of the neoclassical style, favoured by CKS as a counterpoint to the Cultural Revolution's destruction of real classical culture in China.

Entrance to the main hall is made via a series of 89 steps (the age of Chiang when he died). Inside the cavernous hall is an artefact museum with Chiang's two Cadillacs, various documents and articles from daily life. The hourly changing of the honour guard is probably the most popular sight with most visitors.

In 2007 the surrounding park was renamed 'Liberty Square' in honour of Taiwan's long road to democracy, and for a time it was conceivable that the memorial itself would be renamed and the Chiang sculpture removed. That didn't happen, and the reasons (which will vary depending on who you ask) pretty much summarise where modern Taiwan is at, both politically and socially.