The Grandest Palace in Seoul

After a long day, I decided I really needed something to perk me up. The Nanta theatre was good fun the night before but this time I wanted to go grand! After hearing about Gyeongbokgung Palace, I am inspired. Of the five palaces in Korea, this one is the top of the pops. It wears the crown of both the biggest and also the grandest!

Constructed in 1394 by King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, this was his principal palace. Even though it has been damaged many times, sometimes almost completely, like a boomerang it has always made a comeback. In 1996 when the monolith Government-General Building built by the Japanese was completely removed from here, the comeback is complete and the final inner areas are now restored to its former glory.

So, to save whatever daylight hours I had remaining, I jumped into a taxi to make my way there before it got dark.  After alighting from my taxi, I immediately realized how big Gyeongbokgung palace really is. Considering the name means “Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven”, I can understand why. Built right in between Mount Bugaksan and Mount Namsan, this is an auspicious spot and the very heart of Seoul. So, one can easily spend half a day here to fully appreciate some of Korea’s grandest architectural sights including museums and gardens. I had only an hour of daylight.

So I quickly hurried along as fast as I could.

This is the main gate or the main entrance that faces South of the palace. The changing of the guards occur here but by the time I have arrived, I had well and truly missed that. The last change occurs at 3:00pm. I was still at work then.

After walking through the main gate, two things I noticed when entering the grounds. Firstly, it feels almost like the Forbidden City with the surrounding walls. The expansive grounds and grand structures are amazing. Secondly, there are some locals in traditional costumes!

They certainly add a lot of colour to the buildings and it was only later that I found out admission is free if you come dressed up! What a great incentive to celebrate your traditional costume. So the second gate shown below is known as Geunjeongmun. Climbing up the steps and through this archway, you will be led finally into a flagstone courtyard.

Finally here is the palace called Geunjeongjeon. This two tiered ornate building is the main palace or main throne hall of Gyeonbokgung. It is here Kings are crowned.

It is also here that dignitaries are welcomed and grand assemblies gathered. By the time, I got here, light was also beginning to fade fast. Soon, it will be dark. But as I discovered, the palace was only beginning to shine . . . . To be continued in my next post.

Always look up. Don’t miss the exquisite ceilings – this one a pair of colourful phoenixes

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