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Taipei Walks : Taipei Main Station, North Gate and Beimen Memorial Park


Taipei Walks : Taipei Main Station, The North Gate and Beimen Memorial Park


It was my first 100% free flight, as I used my GetGo Cebu Pacific through my points that accumulated in my account. I took a late night Saturday flight to Taipei during my second visit to Taiwan. Therefore, it was obvious that I will arrived in the city at early morning the next day. Like what I did during my first visit, just eight months earlier, I rented a pocket WI-FI with the same provider I had before and picked it up at the same convenience store at the basement of the airport which opens 24 hours (as other provider are closed after 8 PM). After that, I went straight to the bus terminal, bought a ticket and waited for the next bus that brought me to Taipei. I checked-in to the same hotel that I had before since it is comfortable place to rest and near in Taipei Main Station.

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Since it was Sunday, I had personal commitment in the morning, then I used the rest of Sunday exploring nearby places from my accommodation in Taipei, a walk-able tourist spot that I can visit in the afternoon. I started my walk from a well know station in the country, none other than Taipei Main Station.

Taipei Main Station

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I came from in Xinzhuang District, New Taipei City for my morning commitment, I arrived in Taipei Main Station Bus Stop near  Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Taipei Station Store and cross the road to reach the South Entrance / Exit of Taipei Main Station. I explored the station as I need to exchange the 3 Days Taiwan High-Speed Rail Unlimited Pass that I bought few days earlier before my scheduled flight to Taiwan. I bought the pass as I planned to explore places outside Taipei, to explore other parts of Taiwan. And while walking inside the station, I saw lots of people gathered at the center of the station, an open space which at first I thought that there were events happening but it was none.

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That moment, I realized, most people came there in the open hall were mostly my countrymen. I remembered, it was Sunday – the common rest day of my fellow Filipinos that works in Taiwan. And then, I remembered the similar situation that I experienced when I worked in Singapore. Sunday is the rest day for most Filipinos that works as domestic helper and commonly meet up in Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road in Singapore. I learned it was the place where my countrymen usually meet up in Taiwan – Taipei Main Station it is. Observing them just like they were there, sitting together with acquaintances and friends, it was a social place that I thought maybe made them feel at ease as they with familiar faces back home.

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Taiwan Railway LDK58 Steam Train, Displayed at Taipei Main Station East 2 Exit

I went outside the station from East Exit and there I still saw Filipinos, just sitting around, spending their time to chill. Next, I saw a Taiwan Railway LDK58 Steam Train, displayed near East 2 Entrance / Exit of the station. And people came near the steam train to do a selfie photos with it. After taking couple photos of the steam train, I walked around from East part to South part  of the station. At that time, I was still thinking where to go and then, I thought the first place to see where I can play with my DSLR camera, that was the North Gate.

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Shin Kong Life Tower and Guanquian Road

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National Taiwan Museum of Railways

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Zhongxiao West Road from Beimen Memorial Park

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Bo’ai Road (left) and Yanping South Road (right) from Beimen Memorial Park

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Beimen Post Office

North Gate (Traditional 19th Century Gatehouse) 

North Gate is just few minutes walk from Taipei Station. During my first visit in the city, I had seen North Gate from a distance while taking bus and just passing the gate. In my second visit in the country, I freely enjoyed taking photos of North Gate that stands within Beimen Memorial Park.

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North Gate (Cheng’en men)

I did not realize that I will learn something about the Taipei City Wall while walking in Beimen Memorial Park. There were displays at the ground explaining the Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”, History of Taipei City Wall, how the city wall were built, its materials and structural features, how the stones quarried used to build the city wall and it also features the planting and paving design of the park itself which still conveys cultural significance related to North Gate. I honestly enjoyed my walk in the park.

Beimen Memorial Park (North Gate Square / North Gate Plaza)

The Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”

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The Cultural Significance of Old Taipei City’s “Axial Lines”

Qing Dynasty Taipei City’s “Axial Lines” reveal two main strands of cultural significance. Taipei City’s “ceremonial axis” was constructed to run north-south from in front of the Taipei Yamen (government) to Wen and Wu Temples, along Chongqing South Road (then called Fuqian Street in the north and Wenwu Street in the south). This central axis and all north-south streets where directly aligned toward the North Star, forming a chessboard grid with east-west streets,Taipei’s fortified city was Taiwan’s only Qing Dynasty city to be laid out rectangularly. This spatial pattern manifest the city’s “ceremonial system” according to the “royal city” layout prescribed in the Book of Rites.

The History of Taipei City Wall

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The History of Taipei City Wall

Plans to build Taipei City Wall were instituted by Chen Hsing-chu, the Magistrate of Taipei Prefecture, in 1879. Rough 5000 meters long, 5.76 meters high, 3.84 meters thick, and battlemented, it was topped by a horse path and surrounded by a moat.

Five gates served passage through the wall; Chen’enmen (the North Gate), Jingfumen (the East Gate), Baochengmen (the West Gate), Lizhenmen (the Main South Gate) and Chongximen (the Little South Gate). The North and West Gates were fortified on the exterior with enceintes. Built of stone, it was Taiwan’s only rectangular city wall, surpassing all others in height and magnificence. Construction of the wall and gate towers was completed in 1884.

How Stone Was Quarried for Taipei City Wall

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How Stone Was Quarried for Taipei City Wall

The stone materials for the wall and gates were obtained locally. The foundation slabs came from Beishihu in Dazhi, cut from the hill stones using small chisels. To extract each 12-foot-long slab, the workmen first chiseled out 7-8 equidistant square holes in the stone surface. They then placed 5-to-6 flat chisels 3 inches into the holes, obliquely inserted half-inch-thick iron plates on two sides of the chisels, and struck the chisels with 15-pound hammers to split off long stone bars. Finally, they cut the stone bars into small slabs, measuring one foot wide by four to five feel long, for ease of transportation.

Planting and Paving Design Concepts

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Planting and Paving Design Concepts

The North Gate has the greatest historic significance among Taipei’s five gates. It was the most used tea merchants and foreign traders who congregated in Dadaocheng outside the wall. Governor Liu Ming-chuan built the train station nearby and the tax office machinery bureau and many foreign firms were located in the gate’s vicinity. The Qing government ceremonial arch for the reception of officials was set outside it.

The landscape design of the North Gate Square not only beautified the square but also gave expression to Taipei’s history and cultural essence. The paving and planting tell the story of each landscape element.

Jasmin Flowers

The tea trading firms in Dadaocheng enjoyed booming prosperity at that time. The jasmine used for scenting tea became a signature plant of the Dadaocheng tea industry.

Roadside Trees under Japanese Rule

The Japanese authorities removed the city wall to make way for the building the park like three-lane road – a symbol of modern urban planning. The carefully selected roadside tress, such as Bischofia javanica (bishopwood) and Cinnamomum camphora, hold special significance in the development of Taipei’s avenues.

The Building Materials and Structural Features of Taipei City Wall

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The Building Materials and Structural Features of Taipei City Wall

Two kinds of stone were used to build the Taipei City Wall. The underground foundations were built with sandstone take from the Beishihu in Dazhi (then called Qili’an stone), while harder grey-black andesite (Guanyinshan stone) was used for the wall’s protective facing.
To solve the challenge of the ground’s soft upper stratum, Chinese fir foundation piles were driven down to the hard soil sever meters below ground. Then, beams 3-5 meters long were placed horizontally to form a platform on which ten layers of sandstone labs were laid in a right-angled criss-cross pattern. The wall was about 3.6 meters thick. To form a strong protective shield, the wall was faced with andesite laid in a Flemish double-stretcher bond. Its interior was filled with pebbles and rammed earth.

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About Taipei Prefecture

There is information displayed at the ground of Beiman Memorial Park regarding the Taipei Prefecture which was formed when Japanese takeover Taiwan where it has three business center : Taipei inner region , Monga (Southwest) and Dadaocheng (Northwest) outside of the city wall. Information also describes details of the prefecture, by mentioning what can be seen in every part of it. It mentioned what to be seen coming from South Gate, West Gate and North Gate regarding its old streets, temples and buildings.

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Taipei Prefecture

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South Gate Details

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West Gate Details

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North Gate Details

It was a relaxing walk in Beiman Memorial Park or The North Gate Square or The North Gate Plaza. It was also worth knowing that North Gate and the park itself was just recently renovated and improve as part of cultural preservation of Taipei. But I truly admired what Taiwan government did when they removed the elevated highway just to make emphasis of the historic North Gate as one of the symbol cultural heritage of the city.

 

 

 

 

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About DBA Mountaineer (881 Articles)
An IT Professional who is in love to travel to learn more about our world, like natures a lot specially mountains.

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