Zhongshan Hall

Top choice historic building in Ximending & Wanhua
Jui-Chi Chan / Getty Images

This handsome four-storey building, constructed in 1936 for the coronation of Emperor Hirohito, is where the Japanese surrender ceremony was held in October 1945, and later where Chiang Kai-shek delivered public speeches from the terrace following his four 're-elections'. On the 3rd-floor stairwell hangs the masterwork Water Buffalo by Huang Tu-shui (1895–1930), the first Taiwanese artist to study in Japan.

Zhongshan Hall was one of the most modern buildings in Taiwan at the time it was built, and it blends modernist and western-classical styling. Note the filings on the bricks, custom-made by a kiln in Beitou: the design scatters direct sunlight, making the building difficult for enemy bombers to see (a concern as Japan had been skirmishing with China since 1931).

The hall has an auditorium and frequently hosts music and drama performances. You can explore the whole building freely, even the rooftops, at any time during opening hours.

Working from the top down, there's an excellent cafe, Le Promenoir Coffee, on the 4th floor, a teahouse on the 3rd, and a restaurant, The Fortress Room on the 2nd, where you can drink or dine on the balcony from which Chiang delivered his public addresses. Free historical or cultural exhibitions, often very good, fill the rooms and hallways throughout.