9-21 Earthquake Museum
Like the 2-28 Museum
, this place also uses a date abbreviation in the American format. In this case it refers to the tragic earthquake of 21 September 1999. Taiwan
is generally prone to earthquakes, but this, which had a magnitude of 7.3 was the most destructive in a century. In the central parts of Taiwan it caused large-scale destruction, ca. 2500 people were killed and more than 11,000 injured. In addition, over 100,000 were made homeless.
A surface rupture some 60 miles (100 km) long formed along the fault line. The land along this line was raised by up to 7m (22ft). There are several places where this rupture is still visible (one has even been commodified for tourists, at the Chelungpu Fault Preservation Park). But the most touristy place to go to learn about this tragic event is this:
The 9-21 Earthquake Museum was created around the ruins of what used to be Guangfu Junior High School. It stood directly on the fault line and was largely destroyed. You can look around the semi-collapsed concrete structures, now protected from the elements by a roof on stilts. Raised walkways also allow you a view in from above. To the east of the ex-school you can see the sports field and running tracks that in one place was ruptured and raised by the fault by a couple of metres. Also look out for a stretch of railway tracks bent into a snaking S-line by the quake.
The adjacent museum has an exhibition about earthquakes in general and the 9-21 tragedy in particular. There are several large blow-ups of photos of residential high-rise buildings that collapsed in the quake. Also featured are recreations of the internal damage to the buildings. All this is complemented by informative text-and-image panels (also in English) that outline the geological and physical aspects involved. A special feature is also a machine that demonstrates the different shake modes of earthquakes.
Earthquakes are rarely commemorated in such a dramatic way, in most cases, the damage gets repaired or cleared away and people try to carry on. Having such a dramatic ruin preserved to provide a visually impressive idea of the physical forces involved in such events is highly unusual (but see also Quake City Christchurch
). So this is an almost unique and extremely significant dark destination – and possibly the visually most stunning one in the whole of Taiwan.
in the Wufeng district on the southern outskirts of Taichung City in north-west central Taiwan
To get there you can take bus line 50 from the TRA train station in Taichung City (takes ca. 40 minutes); if you’re driving there yourself, you’ll find a large car park just opposite the museum.
Opening times: Tuesdays to Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; admission 50 NT$