Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Taiwan Travelogue: The Grand Hotel, Taipei

The Grand Hotel, Taipei
The Taipei Grand Hotel was built on the site of the destroyed Taiwan Grand Shrine. This shrine was a Shinto shrine built and used during the days of Japanese rule in Taiwan. Construction of the Hotel began in 1952 but was expanded a number of times until its final completion and dedication on Double Tenth day 1973. (10/10/1973) The Hotel because of its Chinese palace style architecture and the fact that from 1973 until 1981 it was the tallest building in Taipei, became an instant Taipei landmark.

The Hotel can be seen from the Number 1 National Freeway (The Sun Yat Sen freeway) as it crosses over the Keelung River. It is built on the slopes of Yuanshan Mountain, it places the hotel high above the city in a parklike atmosphere. The Hotel has commanding views of Taipei and a number of its landmarks.

Miramar Entertainment Center, backdrop for the drama, Why Why Love
This is a prime spot for a tourist as the Shilin Night Market, and the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine are nearby. In addition to these popular sites, the Miramar Mall, which was a backdrop for the Huan Huan Ai (Why Why Love) Video Drama starring Rainie Yang, Mike He, Kingone Wang and Michelle Chen, is located nearby with its ferris wheel that that rises high over Taipei.

Chiang Kai Shek, after evacuating the government of the Republic of China to Taipei, was concerned about the lack of suitable accommodations for visiting dignitaries. He decided to build a five-star Hotel to meet those needs. His wife, Sung Meiling suggested this site and according to some sources oversaw the construction and adornment of the building. The intention of the design was to represent Chinese Culture to visitors.

The Dragon, Lion Plum Motif is found throughout the Hotel
Dragon designs are represented throughout the Hotel, resulting in the common name, “The Dragon Palace.” There are many pieces of art, sculpture and painting, throughout the hotel, which reflect this aspect of Chinese Culture. Each of the eight guest floors of the Hotel depicts a different Chinese Dynasty, and uses murals and décor to show the art and life of the particular dynasty.

The décor in the Presidential Suite, which rents for a mere $5,500 USD per night contains President Chiang Kai Sheck’s Desk and Mrs. Chiang’s personal dressing table.

Marble Stairway in the main lobby
One special feature is the two “secret passages” hidden in the hotel. It was rumored that these passages were secret pathways to the official residence of Chiang Kai Sheck. In 1995, a fire that destroyed the top floors of the hotel, caused the hotel to be inspected for safety from top to bottom, it was revealed that these ”secret passages” were actually air raid shelters that led to nearby parks, not the residence of the president. As of 2005 these passages are closed to the public.

Many notable foreign dignitaries have stayed at the Grand Hotel, including Presidents Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and Benigno Aquino Jr., husband of former Philippines president Corazon Aquino on the night before his assassination.

Photo Credits:
Exterior Grand Hotel Taipei:

Miramar Mall

All other Photos: Brenda Banducci

Other posts you may be interested in:

Taiwan Travelogue:  The Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine
Taiwan Travelogue:  The National Palace Museum
Taiwanese History:  The Chiang Kai Shek Mausoleum

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