A Magnificent Hotel With Mysterious Tunnels

The Grand Hotel was voted the Best Hotel by 'Holiday' magazine in the U.S., and was once rated by 'Fortune' magazine as one of the top 10 hotels in the world. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)
The Grand Hotel was voted the Best Hotel by 'Holiday' magazine in the U.S., and was once rated by 'Fortune' magazine as one of the top 10 hotels in the world. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Located on the Yuanshan (Round Mountain圓山) and overlooking Taipei City and the Keelung River, the Grand Hotel (圓山飯店) is a splendid, eye-catching landmark full of historical significance. It is believed that the hotel was constructed in response to a suggestion by Madame Chiang (Soong Mei-ling), wife of Taiwan’s late president Chiang Kai-shek, to accommodate international dignities.

Please watch this video of the Grand Hotel:

Established in 1952 with 500 rooms, the majestic 14-story palace-like hotel is owned by the Duen-Mou Foundation of Taiwan (財團法人台灣敦睦聯誼會), a non-profit organization under the supervision of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC). It was founded with the mission of developing international tourism business and talents, promoting Taiwan through non-official activities, and enhancing friendship with international communities.

The Grand Hotel (圓山飯店) is a splendid eye-catching landmark full of historical significance. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

The Grand Hotel (圓山飯店) is a splendid, eye-catching landmark full of historical significance. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

The Grand Hotel has received about 100 heads of state, such as U.S. President Eisenhower, Iranian King Pahlavi, King Tupou IV of the Kingdom of Tonga, and King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.

The State Banquet Hall with a birds-eye-view of the Keelung River used to be the location for ex-president Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Soong May-ling to host state banquets in honor of the visiting heads of other countries. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

The State Banquet Hall, with a birds-eye view of the Keelung River, used to be the location for state banquets in honor of visiting heads of other countries. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

In the State Banquet Hall, there is a jade-inlaid Chinese screens. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

In the State Banquet Hall, there are jade inlaid Chinese screens. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Many important events have also been held in the hotel over the years, such as the negotiations regarding the severance of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the U.S., the founding of the current ruling party and other opposition parties, constitutional negotiations between ruling and opposition parties, National Affairs Conferences, and cross-strait negotiations between Taiwan and China.

A striking feature of the Grand Hotel is constructed and decorated with the motif of the dragon. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

A striking feature of the Grand Hotel is that it was constructed and decorated with a dragon motif. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Supported by red pillars and with golden roof tiling, the Grand Hotel was constructed with the elegant elements of classic Chinese architecture. As it is full of the fine expression of Chinese art upon a foundation of modern Western architecture, it is therefore much like a majestic palace.

The magnificent golden dragon ceiling of the Grand Ballroom. (Image: Courtesy of Tang Qianzhen)

The magnificent golden dragon ceiling of the Grand Ballroom. (Image: Courtesy of Tang Qianzhen)

A striking feature of the Grand Hotel is that it was constructed and decorated with a dragon motif, as the dragon is commonly regarded by Chinese people as a symbol of power, strength, and good luck. It is estimated that there are over 230,000 dragon carvings or drawings used to decorate the hotel inside and outside, earning it the name “The Dragon Palace.”

One of the highlights of the Grand Hotel is its century-old Golden Dragon made of bronze and gilded with 24K gold. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

One of the highlights of the Grand Hotel is its century-old Golden Dragon made of bronze and gilded with 24K gold. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Another highlight of the hotel is its century-old Golden Dragon. Made of bronze and gilded with 24K gold, the Golden Dragon is displayed in front of the Golden Dragon Restaurant. This dragon is unique because it has three claws, unlike the four or five claws of dragons that are commonly found in traditional Chinese art.  It is traditionally believed that only emperors could have things with five-clawed dragons, while civilians could only use things with three- or four-clawed dragons.

This dragon is unique because it has three claws, unlike the four or five claws of dragons that are commonly found in traditional Chinese art. (Image: Juliet Fu / Vision Times)

This dragon is unique because it has three claws, unlike the four or five claws of dragons that are commonly found in traditional Chinese art. (Image: Juliet Fu / Vision Times)

The Grand Hotel was voted the Best Hotel by Holiday magazine in the U.S., which described it as: “A calming oasis within the hustle and bustle of the world.” It was also once rated by Fortune magazine as one of the top 10 hotels in the world.

In addition to the beauty of the hotel, two mysterious underground tunnels measuring 67 meters and 85 meters in length remain a curiosity.

Besides the stairs, the spiraling underground passage on the western side is equipped with a slide to facilitate the escape of Chiang and his wife. It boasts one of the longest slides in the world, on which one could escape to the outside in about 10 seconds.

It was rumored that these two secret passageways were leading to the Presidential Office and the Shilin Official Residence. Nevertheless, the hotel authority explained that when the hotel was refurbished, they were designed to be tunnels for evacuating guests in case there was an emergency.

There are two mysterious tunnels on the two sides of the Grand Hotel, measuring 67 meters and 85 meters in length respectively. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

There are two mysterious tunnels on the two sides of the Grand Hotel, measuring 67 meters and 85 meters in length respectively. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

The Grand Hotel's two mysterious underground tunnels remain a curiosity. (Image: Juliet Fu/ Vision Times)

The Grand Hotel’s two mysterious tunnels remain a curiosity. (Image: Juliet Fu/ Vision Times)

Watch this video from The Young Turks — Reporter Freaks Out on Slide at Grand Hotel:

The “king-size VIP chairs,” especially designed for visiting King Tupou IV of the Kingdom of Tonga, are displayed at the Grand Hotel Museum.

The “Important VIP Chairs" especially designed for visiting King Tupou IV of the Kingdom of Tonga are displayed at the Grand Hotel Museum. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

The ‘king-size VIP chairs,’ especially designed for visiting King Tupou IV of the Kingdom of Tonga, are displayed at the Grand Hotel Museum. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

The Grand Hotel Museum is one of places many visitors may like to check out. Various hotel artifacts, files, and photos of major events, as well as the precious objects left behind by key figures, are on exhibit. They provide important reminders of Taiwan’s political and economic development over the past decades.

The beasts mounted to the cornices of the Grand Hotel's main structure are exhibited at the Hotel's museum. (Image: Billy Shyu/ Vision Times)

The beasts mounted to the cornices of the Grand Hotel’s main structure are exhibited at the Hotel’s museum. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Marveling at its architectural beauty, wonderful natural scenery, and historical significance, the Grand Hotel is one of the most popular attractions for both Taiwanese and foreign visitors.

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