Minister of Culture Cheng Li-Chun announced on March 20 that the Ministry has formally launched the process to have six city-designated historic sites reviewed for eligibility to be elevated to national historic sites.
Cheng emphasized that the deliberation process will also see all relevant research collated and that hopefully, the process will help drive a rediscovery of Taiwanese history and inspire a greater awareness of cultural assets among the public.
The six sites in question include four in Taipei — Longshan Temple in Wanhua, Dalongdong Bao’an Temple, Taihoku Public Auditorium (now Taipei's Zhongshan Hall), and the Qing Dynasty Taiwan Provincial Administration Hall — and two in Kaohsiung — Qihou Battery and the former British Consular Residence of Takao.
The Ministry's Historic Sites, Buildings, and Memorials Review Committee that convened on Dec. 22 last year proposed that the aforementioned six Class II Historic Sites be considered for promotion to national status.
In line with the requirements of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, the Ministry is launching a full-scale assessment of the value of these six sites as National Historic Sites, with the assessment expected to be submitted to the Review Committee by the end of this year.
Shy Gwo-lung, director-general of the Bureau of Cultural Heritage, explained that in 1982, the old version of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act divided historic sites into Class I, Class II, and Class III sites that are each administered at the central, provincial/municipal, and city/county levels respectively.
The second revision of the law in 1997 abolished the old three-level classification. At that time, of the 48 Class II Historic Sites nationwide, the 42 in Taiwan Province were all converted to national sites, but the remaining six in the two municipalities of Taipei and Kaohsiung were not reevaluated, resulting in inconsistent implementation of the law.
Minister Cheng also pointed out that while both national and city-level historic sites are important assets passed down through generations, there is one substantial difference: national sites are considered to be of a historic and cultural significance that goes beyond current administrative boundaries and applies to the entire nation.
Longshan Temple, for example, has stood witness to history since 1738 and has undergone frequent reconstructions over the years, thereby reflecting the different artistic trends and levels of material development in the Taipei area.
The exquisite additions from the 1920s, for example, include an octagonal caisson atop the front hall, palanquin-style roofs on the bell and drum towers, and a circular caisson in the main hall.
The construction of the buildings are also meticulous and the carvings finely detailed. From wood and stone sculptures to painting, calligraphy, Cochin ware, and ceramics of the cut-and-paste technique, these are the work of master artisans and of the highest artistic value.
Cheng then explained that her March 20 visit to the temple was also to gain a better understanding of how the 3D scanning and environmental monitoring project jointly carried out by Longshan Temple and the Ministry is proceeding.
The application of such technologies to these cultural assets is, she commented, another sign of how cultural heritage is moving with the times and in step with society.
The review process will also make use of the latest technologies and research to help the people of Taiwan rediscover and reacquaint themselves with these six historic sites.
The Ministry would also like to thank all those who have dedicated years to the management of these six sites, and hopes that the public will join in the work of passing on Taiwan's shared cultural heritage.