Dec 31, 2008

The Ximen Red House

The Ximen Red House

Located in the Ximending area of Taipei, the Red House Theater, often called the "Red Theater" or "Red Play House" in English, is a part of the shared memories of several generations of Taiwanese. It is a unique octangle-shaped building entirely built of red brick, so people gradually began referring to it as the "Octagon Market" or the "Red House." However, at the very beginning, the Red House Theater was not even a theater; it was a retail shopping center with the best selection of international goods in Taiwan. The theater’s location is outside of old Taipei’s West Gate, which was a neglected cemetery through the end of the Qing dynasty. No one had thought that today this building would be designated as a grade three historical building or hold such a special place in the memories of so many citizens.

During the Japanese occupation, the Octagon Market was Taiwan’s most fashionable shopping area. Some popular merchandise included milk candy, red been sweet bread, sushi, and other Japanese
foods. There were also handguns, telescopes, Japanese Warrior brand art supplies, toys, beer, and soft drinks. With such a great variety of products, not only the Japanese who enjoyed shopping here, but also Taiwanese who wish to see what the world had to offer would come here to buy imported goods. After it was rented by several Shanghainese and renamed the "Shanghai Gardens Theater", it became extremely popular producing performances like cross-talk(相聲), Shaohsing opera(紹興劇), and stage plays. Beginning in 1963, the Red House Theater began to show movies. At first the films were mostly black and white Hong Kong martial arts movies. These films were loved by young and old, and
received much support from their fans. Afterwards, the Red House began showing second-run domestic films and foreign films. The Ximending area has become more prosperous since then.
Nevertheless, the Red House later went through a downfallen period and was lack of repair for many years. Finally in 1997, it was designated as a grade three historic site and repair work began. And the reopened Red House we see today is not limited to a nostalgic but lifeless movie museum. lts first floor is an art exhibition space and gift shop, presenting a variety of cultural products, and providing the public with a host of alternative shopping selections. The café it runs provides a quiet and carefree atmosphere for exhausted pedestrians, the fragrant aroma of coffee can always be smelled.

Besides, there also holds periodical performances like cross-talks, traditional operas, stage plays, concerts, and so on. And the plaza around it supplies a good site for new designers to display their works and ideas.

The Red House has unique qualities, and its beauty, which survives the test of time, cannot be matched by contemporary buildings. It also has many stories about Taiwan, waiting to be heard. This place is a complete integration of ancient architectural wisdom and craftsmanship. In this lively place in which young people’s laughter is often heard, traditional and modern elements exist in harmony instead of contradiction, giving a sense that the younger generations passing on the traditional treasures and culture.
How to go?
Rapid Transit: Take the Banqiao-Nangang line, disembarking at Ximen Station. Red Theatre is approximately a one-minute walk from exit No. 1.

Bus: Sanchung Passenger Buses (Wuku-Taipei, Chungkang-Peimen, Huilung-Taipei), Chihnan Passenger Bus #3, 221, 232, 235, 640, 513, 621, 257, 18 or Blue 2.

Car: parking spaces are available nearby.

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