Taiwan's National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (literally National Founding Father Memorial Hall) sits in northern Xinyi District of Taipei, and includes a large open square and gardens. The inside of the memorial hall commemorates the life of the founding father of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen, who is revered on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. In addition the memorial hall has a performance hall, free rotating art exhibitions, and changing of the guard every hour. It is definitely a sight worth seeing on your trip to Taipei.
The memorial hall was completed in 1972 after 8 years of construction.
Chiang Kai-shek's funeral in 1975 took place in the memorial hall.
Originally the hall was only used to commemorate Sun Yat-sen, but recently it has become a cetner for the arts. The Golden Horse Awards festival is held annually here.
There is another Sun Yat-sen Memorial in Guangzhou and also one in Hong Kong.
Sun Yat-sen was born in 1856 in Guangdong, China, but also spent part of his childhood in Hawaii where he had family. He was an influencial leader in the Xinhai uprising the overtthrew the Qing Dynasty in 1911. After that, he was elected as the provisional president of China, and then stepped down for a short time in favor of the warlord Yuan Shikai who forced the last Qing emperor to abdicate. However Yuan Shikai then declared himself emperor. Sun then re-formed the Nationalist KMT party and military in Guangdong, and allied with the Chinese Commnist Party. With help from the Soviets, Sun's army made a push against Yuan in the First United Front. He then died suddenly from liver cancer in 1935 at the age of 58.
After Sun's death, the KMT generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek decleared himself president and led a war against the Japanese, then a civil war against the communists in which the KMT lost mainland China and retreated to Taiwan.
Sun is considered to be one of the greatest leaders that China has ever known.
9 AM to 6 PM.
You can check the current art exhibitions on display here.
How to get there:
By MRT: Take the Blue line MRT to Dr. Sun Yat-sen memorial Hall Station and get off at exit 3 or 4.
By car/scooter: Drive east of Zhongxiao East Road in Taipei and turn right on Guangfu South Road. There is a parking lot to the northwest that offers free scooter parking and paid car parking,
Please see below:
When you first come to Sun Yat-sen memorial, you will notice the giant square that sits in front of it. This is the usually hangout spot for parents and kids, and there are usually people selling kites and toys there.
The memorial hall itself is a giant concrete mass made to look like wood. It seems a lot of ROC era buildings of the time were all built with fancy use of concrete.
Sun Yat-sen Forest of Steles 孫中山碑林
On the west side of the memorial you will find the forest of steles, which has a wall of plaques with quotes by Dr. Sun, as well as a few statues that you can take selfies with.
You can also sit on his lap and take a selfie and pretend he is Santa. It seems many have done the same.
View of the main statue and flower garden.
The Taipei 101 hiding in the clouds in the background.
Panorama of the west side of the memorial.
Lanterns set up on the west side.
Art Exhibitions 藝術展覽
The inside of the memorial is full of art exhibitions. There is one theater that is usually off limits to the public where they hold that annual Golden Horse awards.
Painting of the founding father.
More artwork and calligraphy on display.
Mountain and water paintings on display. I love this kind of art, so I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit.
More traditional calligraphy on display. The displays here change every couple of months so you can check their website here first.
Gift Shop 紀念品店
There is also a very fine gift shop here with some of the best souvenirs for Taiwan I have ever seen.
Changing of the Guards 衛兵交接
The main event here is the switching of the guards in front of the giant Sun Yat-sen statue a the main entrance. The guards switch every hour on the hour from 9 AM-5 PM.
Guards switching out at about 4 PM.
Huge crowd of people gathering to watch the guards.
West Dr, Sun Yat Sen History Exhibition Room 國父史蹟展覽
On the west side of the building is an exhibition to Dr. Sun's life.
On the wall you can see a timeline of his life.
This pamphlet says:
"Taiwan's greatest cause for pride is the realization of Sun Yat-sen's revolutionary vision: "Striking three targets with one blow - 'Nationalism, Democracy, and Livelihood,' and 'Setting up a democratic republic of the people, by the people, and for the people.' After decades of striving, there is integration among ethnic groups at home, with ever citizen like an international ambassador. There is universal suffrage and democratic freedom along with economic independence and an equal distributions of wealth with happiness. The Three Principles of the People have been put into practice everywhere in Taiwan, awaiting the evaluation of History."
Floor plan of the history exhibition.
Back outside, there is still much to explore, such as the fountain in front of the memorial that is constantly spraying off water (see the first photo above).
Zhongshan Park 中山公園
Zhongshan Park in my opinion is one of the nicest parks in Taipei.
There is a beautiful pond and nine turn bridge. However the water is an ugly green color.
Reflection of the Taipei 101 off the water. This photo spot has some potential if you can work it right.
Yu You-ren Statue 于右任雕像
Your tour of Sun Yat-sen memorial would not be complete without seeing the statue of Yu You-ren near Zhongshan Garden. He was a famous ROC scholar and politician.
His statue was placed on top of Jade Mountain for a time until it was decapitated multiple times by activists.
Overall, the memorial is just a great place to chill in a busy city, and is definitely worth a visit if you care about Taiwan's history or want to see some art.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more blogs of the sites in Taipei.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.