Taiwan opens glass shoe wedding venue

With big sheep, big bananas and big prawns, Australia may pride itself on having a monopoly on Big Things.

But now a Taiwanese county has built an enormous glass shoe as a tribute to local women who suffered from a debilitating foot disease.

Completed last month, the transparent 17-metre-tall structure in Chiayi county in the southwest of the island has already attracted large numbers of visitors even before it officially opens later this month.

Intended for use as a wedding hall and tourist attraction, the shoe honours women who suffered in the past from arsenic poisoning from well water that caused gangrene, a condition sometimes known as “black feet disease”.

Because feet often had to be amputated, many women faced discrimination and were unable to marry or start families, let alone wear high-heeled shoes.

“Basically, this is built not only to remind us of the time when people suffered from the disease, but also to represent our hope that women can now realise their dreams of walking toward their blissful future in their high heels,” said the county government head Helen Chang.

Visitor Lin Yi-ling, 56, said the glass shoe was a fitting tribute to the women who’d suffered from the disease. “So when I learned the history behind the high-heel wedding hall, I thought I should come to visit,” Lin said.