The weather was gloomy, raining half the time while we were there. We spent the morning at the Gyeongbokgung (or the Royal Palace), walking distance from Insadong, where we stayed.
Gyeongbokgung, (“Gung” means Palace in Korean) built in 1395 as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty (1392 to 1910) by its founder King Taejo. It was completed after the capital of the new dynasty was moved from Gaeseong to Seoul (then known as Hanyang). It is the grandest and oldest palace of Joseon Dynasty. It was burnt down in 1592 during the Japanese invasion and the ruins were left undisturbed for two centuries. In 1865, King Gojong had the entire palace complex rebuilt. It was later demolished by the colonial Japanese government and the Korean War, and then rebuilt in 1968. Now, the National Folk Museum of Korea is also housed there, where we can view the cultural and history of Korea and the lifestyle in the past.
Due to the rainy weather, the experience was not great. Everyone either carried umbrella or wore raincoat. It was a challenge to take good pictures. For a panoramic view of Gyeongbokgung, do check out my earlier post at Imagine Your Winter in South Korea.
The rain did not deter tourists to visit Gyeongbokgung, there were still a lot of visitors which made it challenging to take picture with the guards. I gave up and took a picture of their back view.
Glad I managed to capture a good picture of the King’s throne comfortably. Years back, when I was at Forbidden City in Beijing, I was being pushed and shoved when I tried to take a picture of the Emperor’s throne.
After exploring the main complex of the Palace, we stepped into the rear garden where we have a better view of Mount Bugaksan. According to traditional practice of geomancy, having a mountain in the rear is deemed to be important as it provides the support and backing needed which make the place an auspicious site. The rear garden is beautiful and serene. Most people would missed the rear garden as the focus is usually on the palace buildings at the main complex.
King Gojong built the Geoncheonggung Palace Residence at the rear garden. An artificial islet was created in the middle of the pond, on which a hexagonal pavilion was built with the name Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, meaning the “Pavilion of Far-Reaching Fragrance”. The bridge across the pond was named Chwihyanggyo, meaning “intoxicated with fragrance.
Getting there: Exit 5 of Gyeongbokgung station (Line 3)
Opening & Closing of Palace Gates and Guard Changing Ceremonies: 10:00. 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00
English Tour : 11:00, 13:30, 15:30
If you plan to visit all the Palaces, you should purchase the Combination Ticket for Palaces at 10,000 Won per adult (about USD10) that grant you admission to the four palaces and the Jongmyo Shrine.
For further information, check http://www.royalpalace.go.kr/
For my earlier post, check out September in Seoul. In my next post, I will share my visit to Changdeokgung. Stay tune!
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