Along with the Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市), Zhongzheng Park (基隆中正公園) is one of Keelung’s most widely recognized landmarks. The park is distinct in that it consists of several tiers up Dashawan mountain, with each tier offering its own attractions.
Perhaps most famous of these is the Guanhai Pavilion, home to both a Maitreya Buddha statue and a 25-meter tall Goddess of Mercy statue. She looks out over the city center, guarded by two colossal golden lions who offer protection and good fortune for Keelung and its visitors. At the pavilion you will also find sweeping views of Keelung harbor. If those views aren’t enough, the Goddess of Mercy statue contains stairs which you can climb for an even higher perspective.
Also present at the pavilion are a Buddhist temple, a large bell you can ring (for a donation), a small games arcade, and a souvenir shop. There are often small food stalls serving some local classics, such as Taiwanese sausage, and on weekends and holidays other pop-up shops appear, geared toward family entertainment. At the Visitor Center there is a restaurant serving beverages and western-style fare, with an enjoyable outdoor patio. Don’t miss the center’s shop containing beautiful Taiwanese crafted goods, from wooden sculptures and traditional clothing to paintings.
Another notable stop further down the mountain is the Zhupu Altar (主普壇). During Keelung’s famous Ghost Month celebrations in the 7th lunar month, it becomes a hub of ceremony and festivities. This is where the Lighting of the Lanterns Ceremony is held, to light the way for spirits. The month-long festival then culminates in another large ceremony held here, called Pudu. This is a literal feast of offerings prepared for the spirits, after which they will be satisfied and depart the world of the living (and after which the living can partake in the feast!). If you happen to visit during the 7th lunar month, falling somewhere around August-September, it is worth a visit to see this beautiful building lit up at night. During the rest of the year it serves as a cultural museum about the local Ghost Month festival, open to the public and with free admission.
How to get there
Zhongzheng Park is accessible from downtown Keelung on foot, and it will take about 30 minutes to reach the Guanhai Pavilion, depending on your pace. If it’s hot out, make sure to bring water for the uphill walk, although also note that there are refreshments for sale at the pavilion.
Once you get to Xin’er Road (信二路) there are a couple of options. One is to take the steep stairs west of the Fo Guang Shan Je Li Temple (佛光山極樂寺) and continue up the hill from there. This will allow you to stop and see the Martyr’s Shrine (忠烈祠). Alternatively, just east of the hospital you can take the winding Shoushan Road (壽山路) all the way up. Take Shoushan Road if driving, as there is a parking lot at the visitor center of the pavilion.