Whenever I travel on practically every place (inside or outside the Philippines and Southeast Asia), I always make sure to get to know the place by reading about its history. Aside from the fact that I teach history in the university as a profession, I think the best way to make sense of all my observations and experiences in places I’m going to is to get to know about the places’ past. I realized, there is no other way to do it than to create an itinerary on Taipei historic route walking tour.
As I was researching for my Taiwan trip itinerary, I came across Like It Formosa, an organization that conducts free (but tip-based) walking tours around Taipei. Apparently, they offer three free walking tours around Taipei: Historic Route, Golden Age Route, and Modern Route. Of course, I cannot miss all of these and I joined all of them.
What I liked about the tours offered by Like It Formosa is that it’s led by young and very intelligent guides. For this specific route, we were guided by a young film director whom I discovered was an Erasmus Scholarship recipient! The way they share information about Taiwan is very passionate and really coming from locals.
Apparently, Taipei has a very intriguing history and was shaped by several other cultures, as evidenced by different architectural wonders. Here is the itinerary of the Historic Route tour. Obviously, all of these are walking distance away from one another.
No wonder this is the most iconic and popular temple in Taiwan. The architecture is so beautiful and a little different than the other Chinese temples I’ve been to. Our tour guide was able to teach us some stuff, including how to pray for a love life, because why not? Haha! It was built during the 1700s by settlers from Fujian, China as a gathering place for Chinese settlers. It was heavily destroyed during World War II but was restored to its current beauty.
Bopiliao Historical Block
This structure was opened to the public in 2009. It was an area preserved by the government which used to be a busy commercial district during the Japanese occupation of Taipei. It connects the Longshan Temple to the Shi-Da Night Market area which became an important historical and cultural landmark. I really admire the red brick walls!!! There was even a prenup photoshoot when we visited there (Oh edi kayo na. Charot. Haha.)
Ximen Red House
Also known as the Red House Theater, it is a historic theater that was built in 1908 by Japanese architect Kondo Juro. Apparently it used to be a market building before being converted into a theater. It has a café at the ground floor (which I wish I was able to try). What I admire about this architectural wonder is its octagonal shape (and of course, the red brick wall). And oh, there is a beautiful boutique at the back of this building.
This beautiful building houses the President of Taiwan ROC and was designed by another Japanese architect Uheiji Nagano during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan during 1800s-1900s. The tour guide actually warned us about taking photos around the area because apparently it was prohibited. He also shared us a lot of firsthand information about Taiwanese Politics which I found interesting and intriguing.
228 Peace Memorial Park
This park was built to commemorate the victims of the February 28 incident of 1947 (hence the name 228) and this is also where the Taiwan National Museum was located. It was the first European-themed park in Taiwan (which I really found interesting because it’s complete with a lot of amenities, including the stone foot massage thing). The February 28 incident was a long story (and I am yet to read more about it), but it was an anti-government uprising which killed thousands of civilians. I think the Philippines has to learn from this. #NeverForget
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
This iconic structure was built in commemoration of Chiang Kai-Shek, the former President of Taiwan ROC. This is a very beautiful place and it’s very obvious that the people of Taiwan really valued the legacy of Chiang-Kai Shek. It started to rain so hard when we went there, but admiring the architecture of this place was so worth it. Taking the steps going to the monument of Chiang Kai-Shek was a little tiring, and it looks like the huge Abraham Lincoln statue in the US.
There is so much history to be learned from Taiwan, especially having undergone a lot of wars and colonizations, like the Philippines. I really admire how Taiwan preserved and valued their historical heritage which made them into what they are now. No wonder Taiwanese people are so resilient and nationalistic. In my next visit to Taiwan, I make sure to explore more first-hand historical trivia from the locals. The history buff in me is so happy once again! My brain was fed very properly.
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