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Longshan Temple is probably Taiwan’s best-known temple.Dating from 1738, it was built by settlers from Fujian province as a gathering place for Chinese immigrants.The building was a governor's mansion during Taiwan’s Japanese colonization.I was more interested in a nearby memorial that our guide did not point out.Since then it has been rebuilt many times, thanks to earthquakes, fires and even an air raid.As we approached, our guide pointed out the dragon guarding the right door and the tiger guarding the left.

The extensive 17th and 18th baroque decoration is a profusion of gilt wood carvings in the vault pillars and columns: cherubs, plants, and animals dripping with gold -- note the "Tree of Jesse," dating from 1718.They will lose their monthly time-off if they move at all. Its 89 steps stand for Chiang Kai-shek’s age at the time of his death.Also, the white walls, blue-tiled octagonal roof and red flowerbeds represent the colors of the Republic’s flag.We arrived near the top of the hour, so we were able to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony.Even if you are not into memorials, the synchronized rifle twirling is worth watching.

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