The Martyrs’ Shrine of Kaohsiung is located in the south of Shoushan, the site of former Takao Jinja (meaning Kaohsiung Shrine). Takao Jinja was originally the Takao Kotohira Shrine set up in 1910 at the foot of Shoushan dedicated to Omononushi-no-Mikoto and Emperor Sutoku. In 1920, Kaohsiung Prefecture Government applied to Taiwan Governor-General’s Office for additional worshipping of Prince Yoshihisa, and renamed the Shrine as Takao Jinja. In 1926, upon acquisition of land on the hillside of Shoushan, fundraising was underway for the Shrine relocation, which was completed in 1929 and received the Kensha rank in 1932, officially listed in the Japanese state Shinto system.
After World War II, shrines of remembrance were being set up in various locations in Taiwan to commemorate the soldiers who passed away during the War. To this end, Takao Jinja was slightly renovated in 1946 to serve as a martyrs’ shrine. In 1972 the severing of Sino-Japanese diplomatic ties evoked an outcry against the Japanese, hence the call for the demolition of Takao Jinja.
In 1973, Kaohsiung City Mayor, Wang Yuyun initiated the rebuilding plan of the Martyrs’ Shrine which went through a 6-year 3-phase construction, and was completed in 1978. The new Martyrs’ Shrine of Kaohsiung was modeled after its counterpart in Taipei with a traditional Chinese classic design, adding an archive of revolution martyrs’ historical artifacts and documents, as well as a VIP reception lounge and an office. To this day, the Japanese Colonial Takao Jinja was almost entirely altered with a few remains like the stone lanterns still visible in the ruins. In 2004, it received funding from the Council of Cultural Affairs for the ‘Regional Cultural Hall’ Scheme, and the Archive of Martyrs’ Historical Artifacts and Documents were rejuvenated as the “War and Peace Memorial Hall”.
Situated at the southern foot of Shoushan, the Martyrs’ Shrine, imposing yet majestic, overlooks Kaohsiung Port and downtown Kaohsiung. With such a stunning view, meandering trails and lush greenery along the way, the Martyrs’ Shrine has become one of the popular recreational sites for Kaohsiung residents.
The main hall resembles a traditional Chinese palace with a double-hipped roof. The roof is covered with golden glazed tiles, and sculptures of gods, and auspicious animals are placed on the roof ridge. Unique structural elements of interlocking wooden brackets (Dougong), ridgepoles, beams and a well are decorated with colored paintings characteristic of the Chinese Song Dynasty. Above the vermilion gate are bronze decorative cylinders, and knocking rings with bronze beast heads are installed to the gate. Around the Shrine are cloisters made of cement and white artificial stones, and the cloisters are installed with balustrades decorated with carved flowers and clouds. In front of the Shrine are fifteen stairs made of andesite, thereby lending the building an antique flavor.