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The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (traditional Chinese: 國立中正紀念堂; simplified Chinese: 国立中正纪念堂) is a famous monument, landmark and tourist attraction erected in memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China. It is located in Taipei, Taiwan (ROC). The monument, surrounded by a park, stands at the east end of Liberty Square. The structure is framed on the north and south by the National Theater and National Concert Hall.
The Memorial Hall is white with four sides. The octagonal roof rises 76 metres (249 ft) above the ground and is covered with blue glazed tiles. The blue and white colors of the building and the red colour of the flowerbeds echo the colours in the flag of the Republic of China. The octagonal shape picks up the symbolism of the number 8, a number traditionally associated in Asia with abundance and good fortune.
Two sets of white stairs, each with 89 steps to represent Chiang's age at the time of his death, lead to the main entrance. The main entrance features a pair of double doors, each standing 16 meters high and weighing 75 tons, that open into the main hall. A large bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek dominates the main hall. The figure is shown smiling, seated and wearing traditional Chinese dress. Inscribed on the wall above and behind the seated figure are the Chinese characters for Ethics, Democracy, and Science.
Inscriptions on the side walls read The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity and The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe. An elaborate caisson is set into the ceiling, decorated with the emblem of the Kuomintang (KMT). Representatives of the armed forces guard the main hall during its open hours. (The branch of service represented changes periodically according to a rotating schedule.) The changing of the guards take place every hour, attracting many visitors.The ground level of the memorial houses a library and museum documenting Chiang Kai-shek's life and career and exhibits related to Taiwan's history and development.
The square became Taipei's site of choice for mass gatherings as soon as it opened. The nature of many of those gatherings gave the site new public meanings.The hall and square became the hub of events in the 1980s and early 1990s that ushered Taiwan into its era of modern democracy. Of the many pro-democracy demonstrations that took place at the square, the most influential were the rallies of the Wild Lily student movement of 1990. The movement provided the impetus for the far-reaching political reforms of President Lee Teng-hui. These culminated in the first popular elections of national leaders in 1996.
The site's importance in the development of Taiwan's democracy led to the plaza's dedication as Liberty Square (自由廣場) by President Chen Shui-bian in 2007.Memorial Hall was also renamed in a dedication to democracy. The announcement of the new names were greeted with hostility by Kuomintang officials. The original dedication to Chiang was subsequently restored to the hall, while the name Liberty Square has been affirmed by officials on both sides of the political aisle.
The Chinese inscription now over the main gate that declares the plaza as "Liberty Square" ("自由廣場") recalls the calligraphic style of Wang Xizhi in the East Jin Dynasty (see Chinese calligraphy). The style is noted for its sense of vitality, movement and freedom. The characters are placed in left-to-right sequence, following modern practice in Taiwan, rather than the right-to-left order of ancient Chinese tradition, which had been adopted at the site previously.
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