If you’re looking for a small walk when you visit Keelung, Zhongzheng Park (also written “Jhongjheng park”) is made for you. Located on its east side, on Dashawan mountainside, the park overlooks the city and offers a nice view on the harbor. You may need to climb a few steps to come up there, but the view and the different spots to visit there really worth it. Let’s have a review of what you can find on this hill, that can be divided in three levels.
The main gate to the Martyrs Shrine
The main entrance of the park itself is worth seeing. Like the rest of the park, it was built during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945). The entrance gate, in Xin’er Road, already gives you a glimpse of the stairs you will have to climb to arrive up the hill. They lead you to the very first level of your visit, the Martyrs Shrine. First built during the Japanese era, it was reconstructed in 1972. A little further and you can enjoy leisure and sportive facilities where Keelung citizens come to have a tennis or basketball match.
Zhuputan or the Zhupu Altar (主普壇)
Climbing up the hill of Zhongzheng Park, another popular spot is the Zhupu Altar. It also houses a museum dedicated to the Ghost Festival history. The altar is indeed one of the main places to be during the Ghost Festival, and especially for the Pudu procession. Everyone gathers there for the festivities, and the decorated Zhuputan appears under a new light at this time of the year. It seems to be in renovations recently and it is not possible to enter to visit the museum, but you can still enjoy an amazing view above Keelung and its harbour.
The Goddess of Mercy statue of Zhongzheng Park
Avalokitesvara Buddha or Guanyin, this statue goes by different names to represent the Buddhist goddess of mercy. It is the highest point of the hill in Zhongzheng Park. When arriving there, you will first notice a golden Buddha statue and a red building adorned by the Buddhist swastika. Climbing up a little more, you can sometimes hear people ringing the gigantic bell on your right, or observe believers praying in front the temple on your left. But you can’t miss the main attraction here, which is the 22.5 meters high white statue, surrounded by two golden lions. It is said it is the biggest goddess statue in South-East Asia, and used to be the highest Buddhist statue in Taiwan when it was erected.
If curiosity catch you, you may want to climb the stairs inside the statue to admire the city from the eye of the statue (literally). But if you’re more into a playful mood, the big square and its many food and game stalls will reminisce some childhood memories. They attract a lot of families and youngsters. The park also houses a lot of schools, which may explain that.
Some other spots you may want to see in Zhongzheng Park
If you’re a Ghibli fan, you will also be delighted to learn that there is a Totoro wall inside the park. Going from the Zhupu altar to the pavilion and goddess statue, you will also pass by a Confucius statue that forms a roundabout for cars. The park includes one of the many forts of the city, but also some courts here and there. The best advice to visit Keelung Zhongzheng Park would be to try different paths to find new hidden gems!