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Tour

What Is The Gyeongbokgung Palace And Why You Must Go There?

Updated on Aug 29, 2023 · By Tom

Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful palace in Korea. It feels more impressive and imposing than the skyscrapers facing it!  It is a must-see if you come to Seoul, and it is surrounded by many museum and art galleries that will ensure to satisfy your thirst for art and traditions for the day!

History

Danwon-Huwonyuyeon.jpegIt has been constructed in 1394 by King Taejo the first king and founder of the Joseon dynasty. This dynasty will become the 500-year long Korean kingdom and will only collapse in 1897, right before the Japanese occupation of Korea. 
After seizing power from the previous rulers of the Goryeo kingdom he chose a new capital, Hanyang (that later became known as Seoul) to replace Gaegyeong, the former Goryeo capital. 
He subsequently decided to create five huge palaces to show his new-found kindgom's power. The biggest and most beautiful of these palaces was Gyeongbokgung, located in the heart of the city it served as the main residence for the King and his court for most of the Joseon dynasty's reign. For example King Sejong the Great resided in Gyeongbokgung and created the hangeul (the korean alphabet) there.
The palace suffered from the Japanese invasions of Korea, also known as the Imjin War (1592-1598) that left most of its premicises destroyed by fire, however the whole palace was restored in the 19th century but the occupation, the war and various fires destroyed most of it once again. After WW2 and the Korean War only less than 10% of the buildings that used to populate the palace were still standing.
In 1990 the Korean government launched a restoration project that aims to rebuild the Palace as close to its former appearance as possible. Today more than a hundred buildings have already been restored and the project should be completed by 2045.

The palace

The palace is filled with many different ancient pavilions and parks

HyangwonJeong Pavilion

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This beautiful 2 stories exagonal pavilion stands firmly in the middle of his pond since 1873 and was one ofo the few buildings spared by the wars. The pond takes its source from the nearby mountain.

Geunjeongjeon Hall

Geunjeongjeon Hall .jpeg

This is the throne hall where the king granted audiences and held all the major ceremonies.

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion

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Source: The Seoul Guide

Another pavilion near a pond, this one was used by the king for feasts and celebrations.

Visit In Hanbok

kseniya-petukhova-SahEnZR5Ni8-unsplash.jpgThe hanbok is the Korean traditional dress, and if you wear one you get free entrance in the palace! You can rent a hanbok in one of the many shops surrounding the area, pick your favourite color, change, and you are ready to immerse even more in the local culture.

To rent your hanbok you have to go to one of the shops nearby and register your bags at the counter, you will then have some time (usually 30min) to pick your favourite outfit and get dressed, after that your rental period will start! Note that for an afternoon the price will be around 20 000 KRW (~ 18USD ).

For more information on hanbok pricing and the procedure you can visit Hanbok Nam Global website

Attend the Royal guard ceremony

carl-kho-nnvmuWjMhJk-unsplash.jpgReconstructed from the Annals of the Joseon dynasty that describe the Palace Royal Guard in 1469, The Palace Royal Guard Changing Ceremony has been held as a traditional cultural event since 2002. This reconstruction focuses on restoring the costumes and weappons in order to reproduce vividly what soldiers looked like during the early Joseon.

The changing guard ceremony is free and is held at 10am and 2pm every weekday (except on Tuesday) and lasts for about 20 minutes, the guards enter the main gate under the sound of the drums and proceed with the shift change.
At 11am and 1pm you will also see the guards patrolling around the palace.

For more information visit the Royal Guard Ceremony website

Useful Information

Pricing:

7 ~ 18: 1 500 KRW  
18 ~ 64: 3 000 KRW
Free for elders and kids under 7 years old.

The palace opens at 9am all year long but the closing hour depends on the season, please refer to the official website
Closed on Tuesdays.

Free guided tours are available in multiple languages at various times of the week. The english tours are at 11am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.


Source Links:

Gyeongbokgung Palace Management Office: 
<http://www.royalpalace.go.kr:8080/html/eng_gbg/main/main.jsp\> 
Korea Joongang Daily:
<https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2021/12/07/culture/features/gyeongbok-palace-gyeongbokgung-restoration-project-gyeongbok/20211207191313415.html\> 
One Day Korea:
<https://blog.onedaykorea.com/gyeongbokgung-korea-history/\> 
Visit Korea: 
<https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=292853\> 
<https://english.visitseoul.net/attractions/Gyeongbokgung-Palace_/73\> 
<https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264337\>

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