Taipei is the showcase for Taiwan's artwork.
Most notably is the National Palace Museum located at the suburb of Yangmingshan National Park.
The museum is the custodian of the rare emperor's collection of Qing Dynasty Imperial Palace from Beijing, attracting 5 million tourists every year.
The museum is ranked number 7 of world's most famous museums. There is a southern branch of National Palace Museum in Chai-yi as well, housing collections of significant historic heritage.
Besides National Palace Museum, there are many museums and cultural parks in Taipei, showcasing the latest creations from local artists.
For instance, there is the old city hall that became a contemporary art museum. Both Songshan Cultural Park and Hua-shan Creative Park were renovated from old industrial plants to become classic cultural-park examples.
The Taiwan island became industrialized during the Japanese colonial era. Traces of large-scale factories are palpable in the metropolis.
With an ever-rising standard of environmental protections and the impact upon globalization, the tobacco industry experienced decrease in demand. The factory production cut in number and even came to a halt.
The left-over idling spaces were cleverly transformed into the cultural and creative parks in our article.
Songshan Cultural Park – the old tobacco factory now prohibiting smoking
With many bus routes and an underground parking lot, Songshan park is next to the Taipei Dome.
If you travel by foot, the park is conveniently located between MRT Nanjing Sanmin Station on the green Songshan Line and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station on the blue Nangang Line.
Occupying an area of 1.2 hectares, Songshan Cultural Park was founded in 1937 during the Japanese colonial era. It was the first modernized cigarette factory in Taiwan.
It stayed a monopoly run by the government until the market was open for importation of foreign tobacco products in 1987.
The rapid decline in demand eventually led to the factory shutdown. After being abandoned for years, it was eventually transformed into a cultural and creative park.
Building constructions inside the park are a mixture of classical features and modern designs. There's the industrial estate built by the cigarette industry during its heyday.
The industrial estate encompasses the cigarette factory, warehouses, baroque-style water garden and distinctive Japanese split office building.
The modernized cultural and creative building displays various culture and creative goods.
Across from the building, there's the wooden nursery room from back in the days, now remodeled to become a bookstore and cafe. The bookstore was once upon a time the shooting location for a movie. There's an interesting contrast between the contemporary and vintage elements palpable on site.
The area around the park is worth exploring. Walk along Guang-fu North Road toward Bader Road, and there is a large Buddhist supply store as well as numerous Tibetan Buddhist Art stores.
On Bader Road, there's a famous Sesame Oil Chicken chain store that's always packed with customers at noon. We ordered their tasty signature Sesame Oil Chicken and some noodles. The sesame oil originated from the local has a rich taste to it.
Hua-shan Creative Park – the largest liquor factory in Taiwan in the past
From Songshan Cultural Park, go to MRT Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station and take the MRT blue line to arrive at Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station or Shan-dao Temple Station. Hua-shan Creative Park is close to both stations.
If you happen to drive, go west along Zhongxiao East Road to find the parking lot entrance. The park used to be the largest liquor factory, founded in 1914.
The factory was later shut down due to the open market for foreign liquor importation and unresolved sewage issues.
Hua-shan Creative Park was reconstructed from the liquor factory and warehouses to present you with various creative cultural and art galleries, thus providing artists the ideal atmosphere to showcase their creativity.
There are also exhibits for graduation works from art students, and comic characters popular among young people. For instance, there's the Detective Conan 20th anniversary exhibit that we saw.
There are family shows during holidays, making it a perfect place to spend quality family time and have a brainstorming holiday weekend.
There is a clock-like building to the right side of Zhongxiao East Road entrance. This is the tourist service center. You can find out about the history of the liquor factory, products over the years and presentation films inside.
Continuing walking, you can see various exhibit halls. Unlike Songshan Cultural Park that prohibits smoking, although it's no longer a liquor factory, the park has alcoholic beverages available for enjoyment at a tavern.
Aside from alcoholic drinks, there are food and freshly made juice provided at the tavern. We got ourselves some tomato juice in order to focus on our tour here:)
There is a newly established Taipei Spot Cinema branch operated by Taiwan Film and Culture Association at the old liquor packaging room. The cinema features mainly documentaries, art films and some mainstream films.