5 days in Seoul, Korea-5/17-5/22/2023

Day 1
Arrival/Korean BBQ
Day 2
Gyeongbokgung Palace
Hoa's Birthday at Mr. Ahn's Craf Magkeolli
Day 3
Changdeokgung Palace
Secret garden
Jongmyo Shrine
Dinner at Kyoyan Siksa
Day 4
Meyeong-Dong Cathedral
Hop on Hop off bus
Gwanjang Market
Cheonggyecheon Stream
Dinner at Yakitori Mook
Day 5
War Memorial Museum
Lotus Lantern Festival
Bukchon Village
Hongdae street
Dinner at Dono & Cocktails

Day 3: Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung was built as the secondary palace next to Gyeongbokgung Palace (main palace). The construction began by King Taejong, the Third King of the Joseon Dynasty, in 1405. Taking 7 years to complete, it was finished in the year 1412.  The palace had been the home for 14 kings of Joseon Dynasty until it was totally destroyed by the Japanese army in the year 1592. After the Japanese were driven back by the combined forces of Korea and China, Changdeokgung was rebuilt in 1612.

Changdeokgung is an exceptional example of official and residential buildings that were integrated into and harmonized with their natural setting. Situated at the foot of a mountain range, it was designed to embrace the topography in accordance with pungsu(Feng-shui) principles, by placing the palace structures to the south and incorporating an extensive rear garden to the north called Biwon, the Secret Garden.  Today, the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for its ornate royal residence buildings and extensive tree-filled gardens.. It was selected as a representative palace for its notable beauty in the history of palace architecture in East Asia and for its excellent arrangement with the surrounding natural environment.

Side view of the Palace from the street.

Changdeokgung served as the main royal residence of Seoul for 270 years. Sunjong, the second and last emperor of Korea who reigned from 1907 to 1910, lived here until his death in 1926.


 Donhwamun Gate is the main gate.

The pavilion features a simple two story wooden design. According to records, in 1413, a 7.5 ton bronze bell was hung here but has since been removed.


Built in 1412, Donhwamun has a two-story pavilion-type wooden structure, it was burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592 and was restored in 1608.


View of Donhwamun gate from inside the palace looking out in the street.

The passageways that visitors use today were made in the 1890’s and originally were used only by royal vehicles. Today, the gate remains one of the oldest and largest existing main palace gates.


As you soon as you get in the gate this is what you see.


The guided tour is included in the entrance fee.  Our guide spoke really good English so it was really nice to understand and hear all the history of the palace.


Geumhomun Gate was mainly used by officials working in royal cabinet offices.


Beautiful two-tiered roof.


Flowers surrounding the area.



A building close to Geumhomun Gate


Geumcheongyo Bridge 

Geumcheongyo bride is the oldest bridge built in 1414 and is the oldest surviving bridge in the city.

 Geumcheongyo is a three-lane processional bridge, 41 ft. wide and only 42 ft. long with the middle lane reserved for the King.


The stream used to run through but it is now totally dry. Passing over the bridge and through the gate is a sign of royal sovereignty and symbolized purifying oneself who passes over it.


The haetae (xiezhi), a mythical guardian animal, crouches below a monster mask where the two arches meet. There are four other animal heads projecting above the arches.


Heungnyemun gate

Heungnyemun is the 2nd inner gate. 




Large courtyard separating the main gate from the secondary gate.




Jinseonmun Gate

Jinseonmun Gate is the small inner and middle gate.


Injeongjeon Gate

Injeongjeon Gate is an inner gate. To reach the main throne hall, you must pass under three gates, one of which is Jinseonmun. The other two are Dowamun and Injeongmun


View from underneath Injeongjeo gate and looking at the Injeongjeo hall.


Injeongjeo Hall

Injeongjeon Hall is the main hall at Changdeokgung Palace


It was used by the king and officials for conferences and as a meeting point with visitors. Foreign envoys would meet the king at this location when they arrived at the palace.


 Originally built in 1405, it was twice destroyed by fire, once in 1592 and again in 1804. Both times it was rebuilt.


Our guide explaining the animals figures called Japsang can be found on the roof located on the sloping roof hip and arranged in a line..  The sculptures were thought to ward off evil spirits and were also used to signing the importance of the building. The more Japsong on a roof, the more important the building is. 


The royal walkway and courtyard, dating back to 1609, can be seen in front of the hall.  On this walkway are stone markers inscribed with ranks of court officials. Court officials would stand behind their designated stone marker when meeting with the king. Higher ranked officials stood closest to the king. Lower ranked officials would stand furthest from the king.


 Looking inside Injeongjeon Hall.


In the center is "Irworobongdo" meaning "painting of the Sun, Moon, and Five Peeks" which is a spectacular panel that was placed behind Eojwa, the king's royal throne, to display the majesty of the Joseon royal court and the dignity of the King's existence accordingly.


 After six years of restoration beginning in 2016, “Irworobongdo,” a Korean folding screen with a landscape of a sun and a moon painted in the mid 19th century has been completed to return it to its original form.


Close look at the King's throne


Injeongjeon hall sits in harmony with the paved courtyard, open corridors, and the trees in the background.


All the siginficant affairs like coronations and royal ceremonies were held here.


Courtyard surrounding Injeongjeon.

There were a lot of kids visiting the palace.


Seonjeongjeon Hall – An office for ruling officials. The king held daily meetings with ministers, reported on state affairs and seminars here.



NEXT... Huijeongdan Hall




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