Taipei and Tainan: Taiwan’s tale of two cities

Visiting the island’s former and current capitals gives you a flavour of its rich history, says Mark Jones

Date: November 27, 2015

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is actually about two cities: Venice and

Taipei Alamy

Taipei Alamy

Padua. Venice is fast, mercantile, hard-edged; Padua slower, cultured, reflective. It’s an opposition you see all around the world: Sydney/Melbourne; Warsaw/Krakow; Frankfurt/Heidelberg; Tokyo/Kyoto. And you can add Taipei/Tainan to that list.

A fiercer kind of rivalry usually comes to mind when we think about Taiwan. In 1949, as Chairman Mao’s troops pushed south for a decisive victory, the Nationalist troops fled to Taiwan and established their government there. When the Republic of China (as Taiwan is officially known) goes to the polls in January, relations with the People’s Republic away to the north will, as ever, be the overriding issue.

The news crews and commentators will all be in Taipei (“Taiwan North”), the Taiwanese capital. I’d be surprised if you’ll see much reporting from Tainan (“Taiwan South”). It is, after all, only the former capital. As in Kyoto, when the money and power moved they left behind the temples, the poets and, maybe, a sense of relief in the air. With the responsibilities of state gone, they could get on with enjoying themselves.     [FULL  STORY]

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