Generously speckled with European and indigenous influences, Taiwan brims with unique cultural expressions that will truly touch your heart.
With Taiwan’s verdant landscape as a backdrop, you will be sure to delight in its exotic architectural structures, which enhance its inherent grace. A leisurely stroll around ancient forts will allow you to experience slivers from Taiwan’s diverse history, while transporting you to Japan, Spain or even Holland. Alternatively, revel in the wooden carvings of dragons, lions and people that adorn the roofs of local temples, and be enchanted by the mystical aura as it lures you in. Once inside, spiritual shrines to Buddhist, Taoist and folk deities will greet you, as will an abundance of folk art, which will be sure to leave you spellbound.
A thirst for more art curios will likely lead you to the National Palace Museum, an exuberant trove of Chinese cultural relics and artifacts from ancient dynasties. Among the 700,000 pieces are earthenware, calligraphy, paintings, sculptures and embroidery, which together span five thousand years of Chinese history. The most renowned and prized masterpieces include the “Jade Cabbage” and the “Painting of One Hundred Horses”.
Arts in Motion
Equally alluring is the National Theater, which hosts eclectic expressions in local and international performing arts including Taiwanese opera, traditional puppet drama, symphony orchestras and dance performances. Popular crowd-pleasers here include art festivals such as the Chinese Drama Festival and the Taipei Film Festival. Of particular intrigue, however, is the Cloud Gate Dance Theater, Taiwan’s premier dance organization. Presenting its passions in Asian mythology and folklore in a rich blend of tai chi, meditation, martial arts, modern dance and ballet, this dance troupe always leaves the audience riveted and yearning for more.
No matter what time of the year, celebrate a multitude of festivities with the locals. You can take part in the Mazu Pilgrimage, watch in awe as a sea of lanterns flow toward the sky during the Lantern Festival or cheer on pole climbers during the Jhongyuan (Ghost) Festival. Adding an extra dimension to Taiwan’s culture are Aboriginal festivities that involve eye-opening rituals ranging from monkey piercing and ear shooting, to totemism and snake worship. While most festivities were limited to tribal participation, some are now open to the general public. So come and immerse yourself in Taiwan’s vibrant art and cultural scene and for once, experience a departure from the norm.