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Meiling Palace

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Meiling Palace, Nanjing Attraction

Introduction

The Mei-ling Palace, located on the top of Xiaohong Hill in eastern Nanjing city, was once the home of China’s former president Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mayling before they fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war. For decades, the building was kept as a state guesthouse and closed to the public until two years ago, when the villa was renovated and its doors thrown open to the public. From the air, the house resembles a giant emerald and the landscaping around it looks like a pendant and necklace. According to local rumors, the house was built as a birthday gift by Chiang for his wife Soong Mayling, and was designed that way as a symbol of love between the couple.

The resemblance, however, was unintentional, revealed the director of the cultural relics office of the management bureau of the Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum Scenic Area. The "necklace" is actually a road with yellow-colored plane trees on the wayside that leads to the residence, while the palace's roof looks just like a cut emerald.

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The palace was built between 1931 to 1934, and later named after Soong for her frequent visits when she was in Nanjing, then capital of the Republic of China. After Chiang Kai-shek, the villa remained unoccupied and fell into disrepair until it was handed over to Zhongshan Mountain National Park in 1950, who managed the palace as public property. Later it was leased out to several management departments, including the city's health bureau and a large hotel company. In 2012, it was put under the management bureau of Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, which also manages other historical buildings from the time when Kuomintang ruled China.

The palace underwent intensive renovation for a year during which the building was structurally reinforced, the wood flooring repaired, and the glazed green tiles of the roof replaced with new tiles of the same color and shape. A panel of experts from Beijing's Forbidden City, skilled in restoring painting on old buildings, was brought it to restore the numerous paintings that hung on walls inside the palace.

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Since its opening in October 2013, tens of thousands people have visited the house located in Xiaohong Hill which is now a scenic spot.

Soong Mei Ling

Soong Mei-ling or Soong May-ling, also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek or Madame Chiang, was a Chinese political figure who was First Lady of the Republic of China, the wife of Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek. Soong played a prominent role in the politics of the Republic of China and was the sister-in-law of Sun Yat-sen, the founder and the leader of the Republic of China. She was active in the civic life of her country and held many honorary and active positions, including chairwoman of Fu Jen Catholic University. 

During the Second Sino-Japanese War she rallied her people against the Japanese invasion and in 1943 conducted an eight month speaking tour of the United States of America to gain support. She was also the youngest and the last surviving of the three Soong sisters, and one of only two first ladies during World War II (along with Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, 1900–2002) who lived into the 21st century. Her life traversed three centuries.

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Reviews from the tourist who visit Meiling Palace on Tripadvisor

1. An outstanding building and and a remarkable woman
Probably the most beautiful house I have so far visited in China, home of Song Mei Ling, Chiang Kai Shek's wife and an important figure of the 20th century. Most of the text is in Chinese but I think they might offer English audio guides at the gatehouse but, if not, still worth a visit. The tearoom in the dining hall looked nice. The setting in the necklace of plane trees is remarkable. Make sure also to visit the nearby Ming tombs and Sun Yat Sen's mausoleum. The Zhongshan scenic area is easily accessible from line 2 (Muxuyuan or Xiamafang) and well signposted. The fit and healthy can visit all three sites on foot in 5-6 hourse (the mausoleum is a long climb upstairs). RMB 100 covers all three but you have to pre-register on the Internet to visit mausoleum (hotel can help you). A must see if you are in Nanjing

2. Tribute to an amazing lady of her times
Call me ignorant, but I never heard of the Meiling Palace before coming to Nanjing. I went in with a sense of skepticism (Is this yet another boring museum?) but left inspired by this lady who helped shape modern China.

There are many exhibits describing the life and contribution of Soong Meiling to the development of China. The museum also portrays a softer side of the First Lady, like showing replicates of her calligraphy and paintings. 

Though bare by modern standards (say in comparison to the Presidential Palace in HCMC), one can sense how grandiose and exclusive this building was in the past. (Just imagine a house on the mountain where kings used to be buried and a long exclusive driveway!

It is different from the various attractions on Purple Mountain, and definitely worth a visit.

Tips: It is not wheel chair / baby stroller friendly.

3. Excellent coverage of the life of a Chinese lady who had great influence on China and the rest of the world.
Touring the Meiling Palace was a memorable experience. The building itself is a great testimony to architects who combined features of both Chinese and Western architecture. The exhibits inside provide an excellent tribute to a lady who did much to help China during her lifetime, especially during a very troubling time, the war with Japan.

Travel Guide

Admission Fee: CNY 30
Recommended Time for Visit: 1-2 hours
Opening Hours: 7:30-18:00
Tel: 025-84431491

How to get to Meiling Palace

Metro route: Take Metro line 2 and get off at Xiamafang stop
Bus route: take bus tourist 1 and get off Mingxiao Mausoleum Museum and you can reach to Meiling Palace

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