Giant glass church in shape of shoe to open in Taiwan
Budai township in the south-west of Taiwan is attempting to attract more tourists by building a church that looks like a giant high-heeled shoe that is made entirely out of metal and blue-tinted glass tiles. Though still under construction tourists are already visiting the site to snap selfies.
Situated in the middle of a construction site and next to a traditional Buddhist temple, the bright-blue glass structure rises up to about seventeen metres at the highest point at (its heel), making it the biggest high-heeled shoe according to the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration that is running the project.
Talia Pan, who is the Recreation Section Manager of the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration, came up with the plan for the building to attract more visitors to the area. She wanted to turn a rather sad part of history into a positive future, giving lovers the opportunity to experience romance.
“Because of drinking water shortage in the south-western coastal area (of Taiwan) in the 1960s, (residents) had to drill deep wells to get drinking water. Because of arsenic in the water, there were cases of Blackfoot disease. If Blackfoot disease is severe, the only option to save a life is to amputate both legs. Because of this, a lot of women lost the opportunity to walk into marriage, walk into a new life chapter on high-heeled shoes,” she says, referring to the Chinese bridal custom of breaking roof tiles by stepping on them in high-heeled shoes as a symbol of leaving behind all poverty and bad habits. “Because of that history, we hope to create a place in Chiayi County, where people can get married, invoking the fairy tale of Cinderella.”
Other members of the administration were inspecting the building to the sound of ongoing construction, discussing latest details with construction workers, as the project is not due to be finished before Chinese New Year in the beginning of February. The structure itself is already finished, while the surrounding area is still a strip of soil.
The biggest concern of Cheng Jung-feng, Director of the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration, is the lack of work opportunities for young people in the region. This is why he says wants to attract more businesses by first creating tourist attractions and hoping that the rest will follow once there is a certain buzz on social media.
“Work opportunities are scarce, because factories normally don’t set up shop here. Our citizens are running out of opportunities to find jobs. So we hope to create the first prosperous era by attracting tourism business. I think tourism is something that we have to do here in this area. So the National Scenic Area Administration is always thinking of ways to create local prosperity so that there are no more poor families and poor areas. We hope that the lives and the environment of the people here can be improved, so we want to use this method to attract hotels. Girls today all like to upload pictures and check in (on social media), so a lot of young people will come,” he told Reuters.
24-year-old student Yang Wen-jiang came to take pictures in front of the ten-meter-long shoe-shaped building, which is made up of 1.279 metal rods and 320 blue glass tiles of different sizes and shapes. As the government officials hoped, he heard about it on the internet and wanted to have a look with his girlfriend, who lives in the area.
“They built this church because of the Blackfoot disease. And we have seen the crystal church before, and because this high-heel shoe church is in the area and friends are recommending it on the internet and are checking in here (on social media), so we came to have a look,” Yang Wen-jiang said.
Visitors of all ages seem to have found a liking to the unusual building. 50-year-old Lai Yu-ting said that she can hardly wait for the shoe-shaped church to open in February.
“I came from Chiayi City, because we heard there was a high-heel shoe church that was built based on a story about Blackfoot disease. We came to have a look because it is very special. I feel like it is really very pretty. If we could go in it would be even better,” she said.
Visitors are expcetd to flock to the church when it opens. The officials at the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Administration are already planning more attractions, including a giant jewelled engagement ring in a water basin, and a waiting hall in the shape of oysters.