Gyeongbokgung Palace

Thursday, 11 February 2016



Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁) is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul and served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty until most of its buildings were destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1590s and their colonial rule from 1910-1945. Since 1990, ongoing efforts have been made by the Korean government to rebuild and restore the palace to its former glory, but as of 2015, only about 45% of the buildings have been restored.

If you're going to visit a number of palaces in Seoul, I suggest you purchase the Combination Ticket for Palaces (궁궐 통합관람권) for 10,000 won because it'll give you access to all the main palaces, including Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁), the Secret Garden (후원) inside Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace (창경궁), Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁), and Jongmyo Shrine (종묘). You'll need to visit at least 3 places to get your money's worth, but if you're only planning to go to one or two palaces, just buy the single entrance ticket instead.

Notable points of attraction in Gyeongbokgung Palace:
  1. Gwanghwamun Gate (광화문) - the largest and main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. Apparently it's made entirely out of concrete, so it's not listed as a "national treasure" of Korea unlike Sungnyemun Gate (숭례문) in Namdaemun (남대문). But nonetheless, I still think it's a magnificent piece of architecture and I had wished that I had taken more photos in front of it.
  2. Geunjeongjeon Hall (근정전) - a throne hall where the king granted audiences to his officials, greeted foreign envoys and held important state functions. Now, it's the place where you'll find the most tourists, because unless you go on a day when it's freezing cold, you cannot take a photo there without being photobombed by other tourists.
  3. Gyeonghoeru Pavilion (경회루) - a scenic place where the King held feasts for his court officials and foreign envoys. Honestly, I loved the Pavilion because of how photogenic it looked (it even reminded me of the Marble Boat (石舫) in the Summer Palace (頤和園) in Beijing) and how its surrounding greenery and benches made it so "picnic friendly".
  4. Hyangwonjeong Pavilion (향원정) - built by King Gojong (고종) in 1873, this pavilion was definitely the prettiest building in the palace because of it's location and surrounding environment.
  5. The Royal Guard Changing Ceremonies - just as we were leaving the palace at around 1:00pm, we managed catch the Gwanghwamun Gate Guard-on-Duty Performance outside Gwanghwamun Gate. This re-enactment takes place twice a day at 11:00pm and 1:00pm. (There's also the Sumunjang (Royal Guard) Changing Ceremony which takes place at 10:00am and 2:00pm.) We didn't watch the whole ceremony, but it was a great way to end our Gyeongbokgung Palace tour with such a traditional scene.
If you're only in Seoul for a short period, I still think that a walk through Gyeongbokgung Palace is a must. It's interesting past and stunning historic architecture will make your stay really worthwhile. Plus, it's not an attraction that only tourists visit because we saw many locals there too!

























Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울 종로구 사직로 161

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