October 8, 2012

South Korea : The Great Palaces of Seoul - Changdeokgung

So this is the second palace that I visited out of the five great palaces in Seoul. I actually ditched the initial plan to visit this palace, cos yeah.. my friends did poisoned my mind. hahahah... Perhaps one is enough, I thought.

But then, I had some free time after I finished visiting Jongmyo Shrine (will blog about it later). Since I was quite near to the palace already, I decided to visit it to fill in my time. Well... it was definitely a visit that I didn't regret.


Changdeokgung or "Palace of Prospering Virtue", is also referred to as the East Palace because of its location, east of Gyeongbokgung. The palace was built in 1405 by King Taejong as an annex to Gyeongbokgung, but many Joseon rulers used it as their official residence, making it virtually became the main palace. 

Same as Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung was also burned to the ground during the Japanese occupation of Korea but it was quickly rebuilt at the conclusion of the war. Regarded as the most beautiful among the five great palaces, it was also Korea's last royal palace of a sitting monarch, having served as the place of residence of King Sunjong (Emperor Yunghui) until his death in 1926.

In 1997, Changdeokgung was inscribed to UNESCO's World Heritage List, for remarkable preservation and its unique co-existence with nature. 

Donhwamun, the main palace gate

This massive Donhwamun gate was first built in 1412. Like the rest of the palace, it was burnt down in 1592 and later restored in 1609. Still standing until now, it is the oldest palace main gate existing in Korea.

Injeongmun Gate

Injeongjeon, the throne hall of the palace and the venue for formal state ceremonies such as coronations and diplomatic events, was first built in 1411, and later rebuilt in 1610 and 1804, as a result of two devastating fires.

rank stones

Injeongjeon Hall

inside the throne hall

 Notice the light bulb at the pillar? Electricity was installed in 1908. 

cafe inside the palace compound

Next to the throne hall is Seonjeongjeon, which was used by the king for everyday government affairs and more informal meetings. 


decoration details

Then, there is Huijeongdang and Daejojeon, which were the private living quarters of the king and queen. 



Daejojeon was used as a residence for the last empress of Joseon. See that yellow thing in the picture below?

That was her bed!

royal bed

In the next compound of the buildings, a bit further east of the throne hall compound and living quarters, is Nakseonjae. It was built for one of King Heonjong's concubines in 1847. Nakseonjae was also the home to some of the remaining Korean royal family; until their deaths in 1989.  

One of the interesting part of the palace is actually the Secret Garden, a gorgeous 15th century garden of ponds and pavilions that extends northwards to Mount Bugaksan. Too bad I didn't get the chance to visit it cos I arrived too late already. Access to the garden is restricted, you can enter it by guided-tour only. There are several guided-tours in different languages daily, so you might wanna check the schedules and come earlier to get the tickets. 

access to the Secret Garden

I entered the palace quite late so I was among the last few to leave, which explains why some of my pictures lack people in it. As I was walking towards the exit, I saw these girls.

beautiful Korean girls in Hanbok

So pretty! I didn't get to try wearing Hanbok at all during my trip. #reasontorepeat

Apparently, there was an event later that evening. They were launching Moonlight Tour of the palace.

Go check it out. Should be interesting, I suppose.

Changdeokgung is open daily except Monday.
 Visiting hours varies according to seasons:  from 9 am to 3.30 pm (April ~ September) , 9 am to 5 pm (October) ,
 9 am to 4.30 pm (November, March) and 9 am to 4 pm (December ~ February).
Entrance fee is KRW 3000, additional KRW 5000 for Secret Garden tour.
Direction: Take subway Line 3 to Anguk Station and proceed to Exit 3.

Anyway, just next to Changdeokgung is another one of the five great palaces, Changgyeonggung. But I'll blog about it when I am free. For the time being, I guess two palaces are enough? Hehe...

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