Sunday, August 6, 2017

Presidential Office Building (中華民國總統府) [Travel in Taiwan 170805: Powerhouse]


 “Is this a camera?”, the guard asked me about my digicam. It doesn't look like any typical point and shoot gadget. But in a heavily guarded place in Taiwan, everything must be check. From the things inside your bag, to the coins inside your pocket even up to the liquid inside your tumbler. Everything that you carry inside must be inspected. I was not inside the airport nor I was about to board an airplane. I was about to enter the Presidential Office Building. The most powerful building in Taiwan.






On its almost one hundred years of existence, this building has been the center of power in Taiwan. Originally called the Office of the Governor General, it is a product of Japanese renaissance architecture. Built in 1919, the whole structure is an iconic red and white building. Designed by Uheji Nagano, it was later remodeled by Matsunosuke Moriyama to fit the island's weather condition. Its large windows allow air to enter the corridors to cool the temperature inside. 






The eye-catching 60-meter central tower was not originally part of the design of Nagano and it was Moriyama who added this tall structure. Aside from the tower, the facing bricks of the building is something to look forward to. If you had been to Japan and had set your eyes at Tokyo Station, you would notice that the red bricks on the outer wall of the train station are the same as to those used in the Presidential Office Building. It was actually Shinagawa White Brick Company which supplied the facing bricks of these two historic Japanese buildings making them familiar in color.



A palace indeed! A box-shaped building in the form of the Chinese character for sun (日), the whole structure was overwhelming. Aside from being earthquake-resistant, it was also able to survive the Taipei Air Raid in 1945 of the Americans during World War II. During that time, Taiwan was still part of Japan and an attack at the Office of the Governor General was a way to weaken the Empire's forces during the war. 



I entered the building at the entrance porch. As I climbed at the staircase, I remembered the infamous incident years ago about a truck that ran along Ketagalan Road and rammed into the entrance of the building. It was a shocking news! With this visit, I realized the importance of the tight security check that everyone must undergo just to enter the Presidential Office Building.

along Baoqing Road where visitors follow a queue to enter the premises of the Presidential Office Building



Even during an open house which happens every first Sunday of the month, every visitor must submit themselves for frisking and bag inspection. At these special days, the public is given a chance to enter the Presidential Office Building from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm without the need for reservation from. The building is also open on regular days but from 8 am to 12 noon only and visitors in a group of 15 people must reserve in advance to wander around.

Zhongshan Hall






The Zhongshan Hall. As tourists enter this lobby, a gift is presented to them as a token of appreciation for visiting Taipei’s historic building. Going inside was like entering a grand palace. At the time of my visit, the flags of Taiwan and Paraguay were displayed on the walls of the hall. The two countries were celebrating 60 years of friendship and various events were organized to celebrate the festivity.

Ching-Kuo Hall



Reception Room


The Ching-Kuo Hall. At the time of my visit, this room was filled with people listening to Paraguayans playing their guitar and singing. From the ceiling to the walls, the room was still grand like the lobby at the first floor. The red carpet and its arched windows. This hall is perfect for entertaining foreign dignitaries who visited Taiwan for a special meeting with this country’s very important person.


the octagonal corner of the building as seen from the windows of the second floor






museum about the architectural design of the Presidential Office Building

Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon


art gallery
post office

The visitors were led downstairs where a lush garden allowed everyone to breathe fresh air. Finding my way out, I entered the rooms on the ground floor. I discovered there a museum about the building’s architecture, an art gallery, the past presidents of Taiwan and the people that they had served. 

post-office souvenirs
at the official souvenir shop
magnet souvenir for NTD 180

model of the Presidential Office Building

I learned new things about my beloved Taiwan and I'm very hopeful that every visitor here will also have the same experience. If you are a Filipino, you might think that this is the Malacañang of Taiwan. For the South Koreans, it is like the Blue House. If only the walls of these building could talk, it would tell a lot of stories far beyond than what the displays will tell you. From the island's Japanese colonization, to the Chiang-kai Shek era, up to today's modern age of smartphones and selfies, this masterpiece of architecture stood the test of time. It will always stay with every new chapter of Taiwan’s history.


Always remember that in the heart of Taipei, there lies the seat of power. The Presidential Office Building! A symbol of governance, a true powerhouse.






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