TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A secret underground tunnel built to evacuate Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蒋介石) in the event of an emergency was revealed to the public Thursday (March 25) for the first time since being constructed over 50 years ago.
In 1970, two tunnels were added to the plans for Taipei's Grand Hotel, one running from the west wing of the hotel and the other from the east wing. The secret passageways were constructed to enable Chiang and VIP guests to evacuate from the hotel quickly in the event of an attack by People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces.
Hidden entrance to secret tunnel. (CNA photo)
Nearly 50 years later, in 2019, the hotel opened up the western escape tunnel to the public. An interesting feature of the 85-meter western passage is a slide that runs along a 74-step staircase.
In the first three months of being open, the passageway saw 50,000 visitors. In 2020, that number rose to 170,000.
On Thursday, the eastern tunnel was revealed to the public for the first time. The eastern escape route is 67 m long and is reached by descending an 84-step staircase.
The eastern evacuation route ultimately leads to 823 Artillery Battery Memorial Park on the edge of the Keelung River, where a seaplane would be waiting to evacuate Chiang and his entourage. The western equivalent routes people to Jiantan Park.
Both tunnels were constructed from reinforced concrete and feature 43 explosion-proof lamps, sound-dampened walls, and tightly winding curves that prevent enemy troops from getting a clean shot at a fleeing generalissimo, reported CNA .
People exiting the eastern tunnel will initially encounter a garden that was once the site of the Taiwan Grand Shrine, the largest Japanese Shinto shrine in Taiwan during the colonial era. They will then reach the former residence of Kung Lin-wei (孔令伟), who was the first manager of the hotel and a niece of Chiang's wife, Soong Mayling (宋美龄).
Close up of sound-dampened surface. (CNA photo)
Visitors can tour the inside of the enigmatic Kung's home and view original furniture and rare artifacts from the hotel's collection. The hotel is now offering guided tours of the tunnel, with a cap of 40 set for each group and four time slots each day: 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m.
Interior of Kung's home. (Facebook, GACCTW photo)
Key parts of eastern tunnel marked in red, including entrance, garden, Kung's residence, and Yuanshan Club. (Grand Hotel photo)