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100 TOURIST SPOTS IN KOREA [Seoul] 5 Royal Palaces of Seoul that Hold a Special Place in Our Hearts

17 Nov 2022

Gyeongbokgung Palace
This is the primary palace and center of Joseon’s government, named as a wish for the palace to realize great prosperity forever. Originally built in 1395 by order of Taejo (Yi Seong-gye), the founding monarch of Joseon, Gyeongbokgung Palace was burned down during the Japanese invasion of Korea (Imjin War) and rebuilt in 1867 by order of Gojong. The project to restore the palace to its former appearance began in 1991 and is expected to continue until 2045. Today’s Gyeongbokgung Palace is no longer confined to the use of one man—it is now Seoul’s most beloved historical site shared by everyone. The National Palace Museum of Korea and National Folk Museum of Korea can be found nearby. Visitors can enter the palace free of charge when wearing a hanbok, which is available for rent from shops nearby. One of the most popular additions to Gyeongbokgung Palace is the nighttime tour, which is so popular that the tickets for spring and fall are often sold out within moments of opening. The popular K-pop boy band BTS made headlines by performing at the Geunjeongjeon Hall and Gyeonghoeru Pavilion of the palace. Historic Site No. 117 (designated in January 21, 1963)

* Major Cultural Heritage 1) Gyeongbokgung Palace (Historic Site No. 117) 2) Geunjeongjeon Hall (National Treasure No. 223) 3) Gyeonghoeru Pavilion (National Treasure No. 224) 4) Jagyeongjeon Hall (Treasure No. 809) 5) Chimney with Ten Symbols of Longevity in Relief at Jagyeongjeon Hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace (Treasure No. 810) 6) Chimneys in Amisan Garden of Gyeongbokgung Palace (Treasure No. 811) 7) Geunjeongmun Gate and Corridor of Gyeongbokgung Palace (Treasure No. 812) 8) Wind Streamer Pedestal of Gyeongbokgung Palace (Treasure No. 847)

Deoksugung Palace
Formerly the residence of King Gojong of Joseon, this palace reflects the historical context of modern transition in its mixture of Korean and Western architectural styles. Jeonggwanheon Hall where Gojong would receive foreign dignitaries or enjoy coffee, Seokjojeon Hall where turns out Daehan Empire History Museum nowaday, West Wing in Seokjojeon Hall where houses the Deoksugung branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art throw into relief the beauty of architecture. Gojong returned to this palace from his temporary refuge in the Russian legation in 1897. At that time, it was called Gyeongungung Palace. The palace gained its present name of Deoksugung Palace after Gojong abdicated in favor of his son Sunjong in 1907, reflecting the wish for the new emperor emeritus to have a long life in his palace. However, Gojong would eventually be poisoned by the Japanese colonial authorities on January 22, 1919, which catalyzed the March 1st Independence Movements later that year. Historic Site No. 124 (designated in January 18, 1963)

Gyeonghuigung Palace
While Changdeokgung Palace is the palace of the east, Gyeonghuigung Palace is the palace of the west. When the palace was completed in 1617 (9th year of Gwanghaegun), it was called Gyeongdeokgung Palace. Actually several kings handle political affairs in this palace and it was considering massive complex containing about 1,500 buildings. Today’s Gyeonghuigung Palace is considerably smaller, with only the Heunghwamun Gate, Sungjeongjeon Hall, Jajeongjeon Hall, and Taeryeongjeon Hall (home to the royal portrait of King Yeongjo) left standing. Upon Gwanghaegun’s ouster by a coup, his successor King Injo used the palace as the seat of the government as Changgyeonggung and Changgyeonggung Palaces had been burned down. The palace assumed its present name in 1760 (36th year of Yeongjo), but a great fire in 1829 (29th year of Sunjo) resulted in the loss of nearly half of the buildings in the palace. Then, it was restored in 1860 (11th year of Cheoljong), but most of the buildings were either dismantled or used as a school for Japanese colonists in the Japanese forced occupation. Kyung Sung Middle School (present-day Seoul High School) was established at the site of the palace in 1915. Thereafter, the palace was made open to the public in 1986 as a park. Gyeonghuigung Park and the Seoul Museum of History can be found at the front of the palace. Historic Site No. 271 (designated in September 16, 1980)

Changgyeonggung Palace
Changgyeonggung Palace was built in 1418, the first year of King Sejong, to become the third palace in Joseon after Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace, which was used as the supplementary palace during the Joseon period after the former. It was burned down by the Japanese invasion force during the Imjin War and witnessed a number of tragedies in the royal family of Joseon, such as the conflict of Queen Inhyeon and Royal Consort Huibin Jang during King Sukjong’s rule and the death of Crown Prince Sado during the reign of King Yeongjo. It was reduced to a zoo by the colonial authorities during the Japanese forced occupation, with Japanese gardens and an arboretum being built over the grounds. Eventually, the palace was restored to its glory in 1987, following the efforts to purge the lingering traces of Japanese imperialism. In addition to Myeongjeongjeon Hall, the oldest of the remaining Joseon-era palatial buildings, Changgyeonggung Palace also contains structures such as Honghwamun Gate, Tongmyeongjeon Hall, Yanghwadang Hall, and Chundangji Pond. Crossing the footbridge will bring you to Jongmyo Shrine. Moreover, the Grand Greenhouse, built in 1909 (3rd year of Emperor Sunjong) as a part of the zoo built in the palace, exhibited a variety of rare plants, including ornamental plants from tropical regions. Historic Site No. 123 (designated in January 18, 1963)

* Major Cultural Heritage 1) Honghwamun Gate (Treasure No. 384) 2) Myeongjeongmun Gate (Treasure No. 385) 3) Myeongjeongjeon Hall (National Treasure No. 226) 4) Tongmyeongjeon Hall (Treasure No. 818) 5) Okcheongyo Bridge (Treasure No. 386) 6) Grand Greenhouse (Registered Cultural Heritage No. 83)

Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden
Taejo (Yi Seong-gye) moved the capital to Hanyang (Seoul) in 1392 and completed Jongmyo Shrine, Sajikdan Altar, and Gyeongbokgung Palace in the fourth year of his rule (1395). Changdeokgung Palace was built to the east of Gyeongbokgung Palace in his fifth ruling year (1405), and the Secret Garden was completed the following year. The palace suffered from several fires but served the longest as the king’s residence for about 260 years. While Gyeongbokgung Palace served as the seat of Joseon’s government, Changdeokgung Palace served as the place of residence for the dynasty. Unlike Gyeongbokgung Palace, which has a bold and linear structure, Changdeokgung Palace was designed for harmony with the mountains nearby. It was lost to a fire set by the Japanese invasion force during the Imjin War but was soon rebuilt in 1609 (1st year of Gwanghaegun) and served thereafter as the royal residence. The palace retains its original structure relatively well and maintains the architectural characteristics of the period, leading to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is true that a visit to Changdeokgung Palace is not complete without going to its Secret Garden (Huwon: lit. rear garden). The garden is most beloved in spring when red prumusmume flowers bloom. It was used as a royal garden, banquet hall, or place for recreation for the royal family. Its alternative name, Biwon (Secret Garden), originated from the garden being used as a clandestine banquet site for Japanese colonial administrators, such as Ito Hirobumi, or the Korean collaborators serving the Japanese colonial interest. Ongnyucheon Stream and Sinseonwonjeon Hall are currently undergoing restoration and thus are closed to the public. Historic Site No. 122 (designated in January 18, 1963)

Don’t Miss
At the Royal Culture Festival, you have a chance to enjoy the palatial culture of Joseon. It is held in May and October in the five palaces of Seoul, Jongmyo Shrine, and Sajikdan Altar. It includes programs that recreate life in the Joseon-era palace, such as resting in the palace, following the footsteps of King Jeongjo by engaging in writing or art in Jipbokheon Hall of Changgyeonggung Palace, and witnessing the beauty of the moon by joining the Moonlight Tour. The festival even operates a YouTube channel with English subtitles. Night tours in Changgyeonggung Palace and Deoksugung Palace are also available throughout the festival period except on Mondays.

Tourist Information

Gyeongbokgung Palace
Web Page
Gyeongbokgung Palace: royalpalace.go.kr
Palace Guide: palaceguide.or.kr
The Rediscovery of Korea: rekor.or.kr
Available Hours
January–February, November–December, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (last entrance 4:00 p.m.)
March–May, September–October, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (last entrance 5:00 p.m.)
June–August, 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (last entrance 5:30 p.m.)
* Opening hours may be subject to change.
* Closed every Tuesday
Fee
Individual (ages 25–64) KRW 3,000
Group KRW 2,400 (50% discount for residents of Jongno-gu)
* Free entrance for visitors with disabilities, patriots and veterans, and visitors wearing hanbok
* Free entrance for individuals eligible for concession prices according to relevant regulations, including the Act on Welfare of Persons with Disabilities and the Act on the Honorable Treatment of and Support for Persons of Distinguished Service to the State
* Free entrance for individuals who are guiding tourist groups while wearing their Tourist Guide or Cultural Tourism Interpreter license IDs
* Free entrance for armed forces members who are in uniform
* Free entrance for cultural Heritage Committee members and expert members
* Culture Day (last Wednesday of the month) and others. For more details, please refer to the web page.
Others
Manual wheelchair rental is free of charge.
An audio guide device and PDA rental are available at the ticket box.
A sloped path is available in the pavilion.
Service dogs are allowed on premise.
Baby changing stations are available in the lactation room and standard restrooms.
A lactation room is available (women’s restroom at Heungnyemun Gate and parking lot).
How to Get There
Use the elevator at exit 4 of Seoul Subway Line 3 Gyeongbokgung Station, and then use the low-floor bus at Gyeongbokgung Station bus stop.
Barrier-Free Travel
Barrier-free restroom / parking for visitors with disabilities / barrier-free main entrance / accessible subway / accessible low-floor bus / wheelchair rental / services for visitors with visual impairment / lactation room / baby stroller rental


Deoksugung Palace
Web Page deoksugung.go.kr
Available Hours 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (last ticket purchase 8:00 p.m., exit 9:00 p.m.)
* Closed on Mondays
Fee Individual KRW 1,000, group KRW 800 (50% discount for residents of Jung-gu, documentation required)
* Separate reservations required for Seokjojeon Hall, Daehan Empire History and Museum, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Deoksugung Palace
* Free entrance for visitors aged 6 years and below, 65 years and above
* Free entrance for visitors who are wearing a hanbok
* Free entrance for individuals eligible for concession prices according to relevant regulations, including Act on Welfare of Persons with Disabilities and Act on the Honorable Treatment of and Support for Persons of Distinguished Service to the State
* Free entrance for armed forces members who are in uniform
* Free entrance for cultural Heritage Committee members and expert members
* Culture Day (last Wednesday of the month) and others. For more details, please refer to the web page.
※ Please make sure to present your certification and receive the free tickets at the ticket booth.
Others
A sloped path is installed at pavilions located along the tour route.
A barrier-free restroom is available (left side of Seokjojeon Hall and Jeonggwanheon Hall)
A manual wheelchair is available (3).
Baby stroller rental is available (4, next to Information Center).
A barrier-free ticket booth is available.
How to Get There Use the elevator at exit 2 of Seoul Subway Line 1 and 2 City Hall Station, or disembark at Deoksugung Palace bus stop.
Barrier-Free Travel
Barrier-free restroom / barrier-free main entrance / accessible subway / accessible low-floor bus / wheelchair rental / services for visitors with visual impairment / services for visitors with auditory impairment / baby stroller rental


Gyeonghuigung Palace
Available Hours 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Closed on January 1 and Sunday)
Others
Fee-free
A sloped path is available, but the incline tends to be steep.
A visitor help bell is offered.
How to Get There By an accessible low-floor bus (disembark at Seoul Museum of History [Gyeonggyojang] bus stop)
Barrier-Free Travel
Barrier-free restroom / barrier-free main entrance / accessible subway / accessible low-floor bus / services for visitors with visual impairment / services for visitors with auditory impairment


 Changgyeonggung Palace
Web Page cgg.cha.go.kr
Available Hours 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (last ticket purchase 8:00 p.m., closed on Mondays)
Parking 33 spots available
Fee Individual KRW 1,00; group KRW 800
* Free entrance for visitors aged 6 years and below and those 65 years and above (documentation is required)
* Free entrance for visitors wearing hanbok
* Free entrance for individuals eligible for concession prices according to relevant regulations, including Act on Welfare of Persons with Disabilities and Act on the Honorable Treatment of and Support for Persons of Distinguished Service to the State
Others
Braille promotional materials and signboards are offered.
Braille guides are available at the ticket booth.
A sloped path is installed at pavilions located along the tour route.
A baby changing station is available in the lactation room and women’s restroom next to Honghwamun Gate, Gwancheondae Observatory, and Grand Greenhouse.
There is a lactation room on the right side of Honghwamun Gate. Visitors are required to place a request at the management office, as the room is locked when not in use.
A baby changing station, baby crib, and sofa are available.
Baby stroller rental is available (4, information booth at left side of Honghwamun Gate).
Wheelchair rental is available (3, information booth).
Barrier-Free Travel
Barrier-free restroom / parking for visitors with disabilities / barrier-free main entrance / wheelchair rental / services for visitors with visual impairment / lactation room / stroller rental


Changdeokgung Palace and Secret Garden
Web Page cdg.go.kr
Available Hours
Palace
February–May, September–October, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (last entrance at 5:00 p.m.)
June–August, 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (last entrance at 5:30 p.m.)
November–January, 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (last entrance at 6:30 p.m.)
Secret Garden
February–November, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (last entrance at 3:30 p.m.)
March–May, Sep–Oct, 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (last entrance at 4:00 p.m.)
June–August, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (last entrance at 4:30 p.m.)
December–January, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (last entrance at 3:00 p.m.)
* Closed on Mondays
* Admission to Secret Garden is limited. Visitors must be accompanied by a tour guide.
Fee
Palace
Adult (25–64 years of age) KRW 3,000, Child (under 24 years of age) free of charge (excluding foreigners) / Group KRW 2,400
* 50% discount for Jongno-gu residents (identification is required)
* For information on groups eligible for free entrance, please refer to the official web page of Changdeokgung Palace.
Secret Garden
Adult (19–24 years old) KRW 5,000, Adult (25–64 years old) KRW 8,000, Child (7–18 years old) KRW 2,500 / Group KRW 7,400
* Secret Garden’s adult ticket includes palace admissions.
* Free of charge for children under 6 years of age, visitors with disabilities, patriots and veterans
* 50% discount for Jongno-gu residents (identification is required)
Others
A sloped path is installed at pavilions located along the tour route.
A baby changing station is available at the lactation room and women’s restroom at the Donhwamun Gate (Nakseonjae Complex restrooms).
The lactation room (restroom across Nakseonjae Complex) includes facilities such as a baby changing station, washbasin, microwave oven, water cooler, and sofa.
Baby stroller rental is available (10, information booth on the left of Donhwamun Gate).
Wheelchair rental is offered (6, information booth).
Parking for visitors with disabilities is available (2, left side of Donhwamun Gate).
An emergency bell is installed in all three barrier-free restrooms (Donhwamun Gate, Nakseonjae Complex, Buyongjeong Pavilion).
How to Get There Use the elevator at exit 6 of Seoul Subway Line 3 Anguk Station, or disembark at Changdeokgung Palace bus stop.
Barrier-Free Travel
Barrier-free restroom / parking for visitors with disabilities / barrier-free main entrance / accessible subway / accessible low-floor bus / wheelchair rental / services for visitors with visual impairment / lactation room / baby stroller rental



  • Gyeongbokgung Palace 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul / +82-2-3700-3900 Deoksugung Palace 99, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul / +82-2-771-9951, +82-2-751-0753(Seokjojeon Hall) Gyeonghuigung Palace 55, Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul / +82-2-724-0274 Changgyeonggung Palace 185, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul / +82-2-762-4868 Changdeokgung Palace and Secret Garden 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul / +82-2-3668-2300




Source: Korea Tourism Organization


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