Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Travel – Corner Palaces Of Seoul

Photos are from Google.
No matter if you are an adventure tourist or business trip, No matter if it’s your simple holiday travel to Korea or it’s your shopping travel just like what Chinese people do (Chinese people mostly travelling to Korea for shopping beauty and skin cares, there is several flights between Korea and China daily!). No matter what is your travel result, you have to visit one of these 4 corner palaces in Seoul.

Seoul is combination city of traditional and modern life. One of the amazing things about this city is the most of famous and important historic sights are located exactly in middle of business and crowded part of city. You can see one of the most historic gates of Joseon Dynasty while walking in the street. Or there is a gate square in middle of street and cars are circling around it.


Seoul has 6 famous palaces which are built centuries ago in nearly 4 corner of city. Every palaces need paying entrances but if you know or not, the last Wendsday of every month is called “Cultural Day” in Korea, and there is “No Entrance Pay” day.



1-      Gyeongbokgung palace (경복궁):

One of the most famous ones is Gyeongbokgung palace (경복궁). Gung () word means “Palace” in Korean, so there is last common letter in all palaces names. Gyeongbokgung also referred as a Northern palace, cause it is located furthest north comparing with other palaces. It built 1395 during Joseon Dynasty. There is Hyangwonjeong pond in the palace central and it offers the best scenery for taking photo. The National Palace Museum of Korea is located south of Heungnyemun Gate, and the National Folk Museum is located on the eastern side within Hyangwonjeong. If you are a lucky person, you can see their gates guard changing presentation. It’s kindly amazing and gives you a feeling of last Joseon Dynasty.




Gyeongbokgung is my favorite palace among all of them, and I had visited there during my every travel to Seoul. If you going out of main gate, and going straight the head, you can see the famous Gwanghwamun square and The King Sejong statue.


2-      Deoksugung palace (덕수궁):

Located at the corner of Seoul's busiest downtown intersection, Deoksugung Palace is famous for its elegant stone-wall road. It is also the only palace that sits alongside a series of western style buildings that add to the uniqueness of the surrounding scenery. Deoksugung Palace originally belonged to Wolsandaegun (1454-1488), the older brother of King Seongjong (1469-1494) of the Joseon Dynasty. It became a proper palace when Gwanghaegun (1575-1641) ascended to the throne and gave the palace the name Gyeongungung in 1611. Afterwards, the name was then changed back to its orginal title of Deoksugung. 



Upon entering Deoksugung Palace and Daehanmun, visitors will cross the wide bridge of Geumcheon. The king's carriage would pass over this bridge during ancient times. The Beopjeon Building Junghwajeon is very stately, revealing its long history. The Jeukjodang Building received its name from Gwanghaegun and In-Jo, who both ascended to the throne here. The front sign on Jeukjodang was written personally by Go Jong in 1905 after he became king. Hamnyeongjeon was where Go Jong slept, and Hamnyeong was named so to wish Go Jong lasting peace. The East Wing served as the king’s room, and the west wing was for the queen. Jeonggwanheon was the first western style building built in the palace, completed in 1900. Go Jong enjoyed drinking coffee and spending his free time here. The back of the building had secret passageways to the Russian Emissary, which still exist today. (Credit text to: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/).


3-      Gyeonghuigung palace (경희궁):

During the latter half of the Joseon period, Gyeonghuigung Palace served as the secondary palace for the king. Situated on the west side of Seoul, it was also called Seogwol, literally meaning "a palace of the west." The secondary palace was where the king moved to in times of emergency. 

From In-Jo to Cheol-Jong, about ten kings from the Joseon Dynasty stayed here at Gyeonghuigung. This palace was built using the slanted geography of the surrounding mountain, and it boasts traditional beauty in its architecture and huge historical significance. For a time, it was of a considerable size, even to the point of having an arched bridge connecting it to Deoksugung Palace. For the king’s royal audience, there was Sungjeongjeon and Jajeongjeon buildings, and for sleeping quarters, Yungbokjeon and Hoesangjeon buildings. 

Altogether there were about 100 small and large buildings on the palace grounds. But when Japan began occupation of Korea in 1908, the Japanese school, Gyeongseong Middle School moved into the palace, and as a result, much of the palace became leveled or moved. Currently, Gyeonghuigung’s front gate, Heunghwamun, is being used as front gate for Shilla Hotel’s main entrance, and Sungjeongjeon is at Dongguk University. The school moved out to a different area, and the Sungjeongjeon and some of the other buildings have been reconstructed. 

Nearby the Gyeonghuigung Palace is Seoul History Museum, Jeongdong Street, and the busy Jongno Street. After you have been to Gyeonghuigung, you can cross to Jeongdong Street and walk to Deoksugung Palace. The stonewall road to Deoksugung Palace is considered one of the most elegant roads in Seoul. (Credit text to: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/).
Honestly, in my last travel to Seoul I didn’t have any special plan to visit this palace but in a day Gyeongbokgung palace visit, after a long walk to find my favorite restaurant, accidentally I found this palace and it was a good idea to have a look at it. It was really nice place in my eyes and I spent a great afternoon in its garden.



4-      Unhyeongung Royal Residence (운현궁):

Unhyeongung Royal Residence was the home of young Gojong, who later became Emperor during the Joseon Dynasty. Under order of Queen Mother Jo, Unhyeongung was renovated into a grand, palace-like house with four gates. Gojong’s father, Yi Haeung, or better known as Heungseon Daewongun, continued to live at Unhyeongung for most of his life. Damaged during the Japanese colonial period and the Korean War, the Unhyeongung Royal Residence seen today is a much smaller version of the majestic structure that it used to be. (Credit text to: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/).

The great point of this place is you can experience traditional clothes in the historic area. You can rent Korean Hanbok (한복) clothes for some minutes just as pay 1.5$ and take a photo in palace.




5-      Changdeokgung palace & Huwon (창덕궁과 후원):

Changdeokgung Palace was the second royal villa built following the construction of Gyeongbukgung Palace in 1405. It was the principal palace for many kings of the Joseon Dynasty, and is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal Joseon palaces. The palace grounds are comprised of a public palace area, a royal family residence building, and the rear garden. Known as a place of rest for the kings, the rear garden boasts a gigantic tree that is over 300 years old, a small pond and a pavilion. 

The palace gained importance starting from the time of Seongjong, the 9th king of Joseon, when a number of kings began using it as a place of residence. Unfortunately, the palace was burned down by angry citizens in 1592 when the royal family fled their abode during the Japanese invasion of Korea. Thanks to Gwanghaegun, the palace was restored in 1611. Even today, it houses a number of cultural treasures, such as Injeongjeon Hall, Daejojeon Hall, Seonjeongjeon Hall, and Nakseonjae. 

Changdeokgung Palace’s rear garden was constructed during the reign of King Taejong and served as a resting place for the royal family members. The garden had formerly been called Bukwon and Geumwon, but was renamed Biwon after King Kojong came into power. The garden was kept as natural as possible and was touched by human hands only when absolutely necessary. Buyongjeong, Buyongji, Juhabru, Eosumun, Yeonghwadang, Bullomun, Aeryeonjeong, and Yeongyeongdang are some of the many pavilions and fountains that occupy the garden. The most beautiful time to see the garden is during the fall when the autumn foliage is at its peak and the leaves have just started to fall. 

Though it has been treasured by Koreans for centuries, Changdeokgung Palace was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage site by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee in December of 1997 during the committee meeting in Naples, Italy. 

Changdeokgung Palace was one of the places visited by the first ladies of the Seoul G20 summit during the G20 conference in Seoul in November 2010. It is one of the most historically significant attractions that represent the beauty of Korea. (Credit text to: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/).



6-      Changgyeonggung palace (창경궁):

Located in the heart of Seoul, Changgyeonggung Palace was first built by the 4th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejong (r.1418-1450), for his retiring father, King Taejong. It often served as residential quarters for queens and concubines. During the reign of King Seongjong (r.1469-1494), the palace was renovated and renamed to Changgyeonggung Palace. It later became a park with a zoo and a botanical garden during Japanese colonial rule. The palace was then relocated in 1983 and regained its old grace after years of restoration. 

Past the entrance of Changgyeonggung Palace, the Honghwa Gate, you will find Okcheongyo Bridge. All palaces of the Joseon Dynasty have ponds with an arch bridge over them, just like Okcheongyo Bridge. Cross Okcheongyo Bridge, pass the Myeongjeongmun Gate, and you will find Myeonjeongjeon. This is the office of the king, and Myeongjeongjeon is the oldest of the Joseon Dynasty palaces. The houses face southwards, but Myeongjeongjeon faces east. Because the ancestral shrine of the royal family is located to the south, the gate couldn't face the south, as is required by Confucian custom. There are stones with the status of the officials carved on the yard. Behind Myeongjeongjeon on the upper left side is Sungmundang. This building utilizes the slope of the mountain. If you look at Myeongjeongjeon and Munjeongjeon, the combination of the high and low roofs offers a beautiful view. 

Tongmyeongjeon was built for the queen. It is the biggest building in Changgyeonggung Palace, and you can recognize the delicate details of its structure in various parts of the building. Walk up the stones past Tongmyeongjeon and there you will find Jagyeongjeon. On the southeast direction of the Jagyeongjeon is the Punggidae. This Punggidae is a measuring instrument. It is a long pole with a cloth hung at the end used to check the speed and direction of the wind. If you head north there is a large pond called Chundangji. Half of the pond was originally a rice field that the king took care of. But during the Japanese occupation, the rice field was changed to a pond with little ships floating on it. And the botanic garden built above the pond still remains today. (Credit text to: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/).

Starry Night At Palaces:

Evening tours of the palaces have grown in popularity. Visiting a palace at night is a cooler and quieter experience than during the day.
The beautiful greens and oranges of the palace color schemes are in great contrast with the tall buildings that surround the grounds. Twice a year, Gyeongbokgung palace and Changgyeonggung palace remain open in the evening, from 7 to 10 p.m. advance reservations aren’t required, but since admittances are limited, reservations are recommended. The time of this kind of tour is four in all, one per season. The tours were already held for six days in winter and six days in spring. The palaces are planned to be open for 12 days in August, then again in autumn, in October and November. If you are in Seoul during this time, do not miss this great opportunity. The breathtaking night views of Gyeongbokgung palace and Changgyeonggung palace are definitely not something you’d want to miss (KOREA monthly magazine of tourism & cultural organization).

Don’t forget to use #KoreaWithGilda under your photos on Instagram, then I can find your Korea’s picture at that time and recommend you new places to go around you.

Xoxo,

PrincessGilda


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