Wisteria Tea House occupies a central position in the political culture of Taipei. During the 1950s, Prof. Chou Te-wei and a group of leading academics met here regularly to discuss, study and promote western liberalism in Taiwan. After the pro-democracy Kaohsiung Incident in 1979, it became a meeting place for political dissidents and avant-garde artists. The building was first turned into a tea house in 1981 by owner Chou Yu. Chou named it Wisteria Tea House after the old wisteria vines growing along the building eaves. In 1997, the tea house was designated as a city historic site.
The Taipei Grand Mosque is a center of worship for Taipei`s Muslims community. Designed by the renowned architect C.C. Yang, the mosque was built in 1960 with funds donated from_ Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. The main distinguishing feature of the mosque is its enormous domed roof. The dome is 15 meters high, 15 meters in diameter and is supported entirely without beams. The mosque is adorned with handmade Persian rugs and chandeliers presented by kings of countries allied with Taiwan. The mosque also has two minarets that rise impressively to over 20 meters. When visiting Taipei Grand Mosque, please be sure to follow the mosque rules. Only Muslims are allowed to enter the main prayer hall and second floor prayer hall for women.
Fuyang Eco Park is just a 5-minute walk from__ MRT Linguang Station. During the time of the Japanese Colonial Period to 1988, the site was used as a military ammunition depot. Later, it became the land designated for a park. The entire valley maintains almost the same ecological landscape that existed more than a hundred years ago. There are abundant plants in the park, with insects calling and birds singing, where natural resources such as low-elevation forests and streams are also preserved. The rare ecological park in the City is divided into several areas: Natural Succession Area, Butterfly Watching Area, Formosan Giant Flying Squirrel Observation Area and Taipei Tree Frog Observation Area. Other than tree frogs, butterflies and Formosan Giant Flying Squirrels, the Park has a total of 5000 trees covering 331 plant species, such as: Incense machilus (Machilus zuihensis), Formosa acacia (Acacia confusa), Turn In The Wind (Mallotus paniculatus), Elephant’s Ear (Macaranga tanarius), etc. In the surroundings, there are houses of the military dependents’ village, preserved forts, culverts and vicissitudinous stone steps. Marks of painstaking efforts made by the military officers are clearly evident. Standing among these old structures would give visitors an odd feeling of having a soulfuls communication with the older generation.
Xiangshan derives its name from_ its external shape (“xiang” means elephant in Chinese) and is located at the south-eastern section of Xinyi District. Its composition is mainly sandstone, akin to that of Hushan. The tawny cliffs and giant rocks along the path, coupled with numerous natural life forms and birds, make the entire mountain resemble a natural ecological paradise.
It’s a great place for the general public to enjoy outdoor leisure time and bask in the beauty of nature. Along the trail there are explanatory sign boards providing information to visitors concerning the environment. The diversified cliff and slope terrains form a great nurturing ground for fern-family plants. In particular, the quantity of Taiwanese Cibotium (Cibotium taiwanianum) and Flying Spider-monkey Tree Fern (Cyathea lepifera) ranks top in Taipei City. Back in the days when medicine was not as advanced as it is today, Taiwanese Cibotium was commonly used to stop bleeding. The Flying Spider-monkey Tree Fern, on the other hand, is the most valuable ecological feature of Taipei City.
Standing on the top of Xiangshan, the entire Taipei Basin is right under your eyes. The extension of the ridge reaches into Zhongqiang Park of Xinyi District, and therefore has become the best evening stroll venue for local residents. It is also a great vacation spot for people to relax and relieve stress. The Six Giant Rocks “Laolaixia” is the name given to Xiangshan’s landscape of peculiar giant rocks. On top of these rocks, the entire view of the bustling Xinyi District is captured; it is a popular spot for photo-taking. The rising sun juxtaposed with Taipei 101 and the slumbering Xinyi District skyscrapers provide endless pictures of enjoyment throughout the day and night.
The 6.6-hectares Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei’s Xinyi District was completed in 1937 as the Songshan Tobacco Factory, which was one of the seed companies of a monopoly system mandated by the Taiwan Governor-General Office. The premises were one of Taiwan’s pioneers of modern industry, as well as the first professional tobacco plant. A gracefully simple Japanese modernist structure, the factory features meticulously crafted face cams, glasswork and bronze nails that made it arguably a “model factory” at that time. When Japan lost the war in 1945, the Taiwan Provincial Monopoly Bureau took over the factory and renamed it, Songshan Tobacco Factory of Taiwan Provincial Monopoly Bureau. The factory ceased production of cigarettes in 1998 for concerns over urban planning, regulatory changes in the tobacco and liquor marketing system, as well as shrinking demand. It became a relic of the past after being merged into the Taipei Cigarette Plant. In 2001, the Taipei City Government named the tobacco factory the city’s 99th historic site and converted it into a park comprising city-designated historic sites (namely the office building, the 1st to 5th warehouses, cigarette plant and boiler room), historic structures (the inspection room, a machinery repair shed and a nursing room) and architectural highlights (the Baroque-style garden, an ecologically landscaped pond, a public bath and a multi-purpose auditorium).
For more efficient reuse of space, the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park was built on the historic site as a production base for designers and cultural & creative businesses, as well as a venue for performances and exhibitions. The park introduced to its premises a Taiwan Design Museum and TMSK through partnerships with the Taiwan Design Center and prestigious Taiwanese glasswork label LIULI GONG FANG, respectively, besides a snack bar that was converted from____ the machinery repair shed.
At a corner in Taipei’s high-end Xinyi District, a few low-rise houses sit closely together. These somewhat crowded buildings chronicled the tears and joy of veterans who migrated to Taiwan in the early days. This is the former site of Taipei City’s Military Dependents’ Village, called the “Sisinan Village”. With the increasingly fast economic growth and the rising living standard, these old houses no longer serve the needs of the residents. The City Government initially planned to rebuild them in 1999. However, through persuasion from_ the cultural circles, the City Government designated this premise as the Cultural Hall and Cultural Park of Xinyi District, and started operation in 2003.
The Hall consists of four symmetrical buildings. The houses that sat tightly next to each other have been converted into an open space for events and exhibitions. The premise now consists of an exhibition hall, Military Dependents’ Village Exhibition Hall, performance hall and community hall. The exterior still retains the unique low-rise and the simple, rustic style of the Military Dependents’ Village. The narrow alleys and footpaths will take the visitors down memory lane. It is a fascinating contrast to the neighboring towering Taipei 101 and surrounding modern buildings, a compelling testimony of Taipei’s urban development.