Seoul is the ancient seat of Korean’s Royalty and, as such, there are a number of palaces (some renovated and others rebuilt) that offer a glimpe into the country’s past. Many are well worth a visit. The palaces (gung) date from various periods of the Joseon (aka Chosun) Dynasty (about 5-600 years until the early 20th century)
Changdeok-gung (Changdeokgung) was first built in 1405 and was the seat of power between 1618 and 1896. The buildings have all been recently restored and freshly repainted. Buildings of particular note include the blue-roofed Seonjeongjeon, which was the king's office, and the Daejojeon ("Great Making Hall"), his bedchamber, but most famous of all is the Biwon ("Secret Garden") in the back. This area was once refered to simply as Huwon, meaning Rear Garden. Access to the complex (Changdeok and Biwon) is by guided tour only. This website has some English, Chinese and Japanese.
Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM November through February and 9 AM to 6 PM May through October. Closed Mondays
Tours: English tours are offered 3 times a day at 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM, but Korean-language ones are available every half hour.( Suggest you check with the 1330 help line to confirm those times in case they may have changed. Special evening (moonlight) tours are available from April to November, however, most are in Korean only. Certain dates are reserved each month for foreign nationals and offered in either Chinese, English or Japanese - participants must specify their prefered language in advance.
Directions: Go our Exit 3 of Anguk Station (Subway Line 3, Stop 328) and go straight for about 5-7 minutes. When you see the palace wall turn right and cross at the pedestrian crossing. Turn right on the other side of the street, walk to the entrance (less than 1 minute walk). Map in English on palace website.
Gyeongbok-gung (Gyeongokgung) Seoul's grandest palace and the seat of power for centuries before it was razed in 1592 and again in 1910 by the Japanese. Large parts have now been restored and the vast grounds also house the Joseon Palace Museum and the Korean Folk Museum.
Admission: W3000 Adults, W1,200 Children.
Hours:9 AM to 5 PM November through February and 9 AM to 6 PM May through October. Closed Tuesdays. Some information on this website is in English.
Directions: Located behind the Gwanghwamun Gate at Gyeongbokgung Station Line 3 (stop 327) or Gwangwhamun Station, Stop 533, Exit 2.
Deoksu-gung (Deoksugung) is a vivd contrast other nearby palaces. Built during the mid-fifteenth century, the architecture is a fusion of both Korean (outside) and Western (inside) architecture.
Admission: Adults (19 to 64 years old): 1,000 won (groups: 800 won) Children (7 to 18 years old) and soldiers: 500 won (groups: 400 won). Free for children 6 and under as well as seniors 65 and over.
Hours: 9 AM to 5:30 PM November through February and 9 AM to 6 PM May through October. Closed on Mondays.This website has some information in English.
Located across from City Hall. Take Subway lines 1 or 2 to the City Hall Stop (stop 203 or 133).
ChangGyeong-gung (Changgyeonggung) was built in 1104 as a summer palace for the kings of the Koryo Dynasty.. It later became one of the main palaces during the Joseon Dynasty and was used as a temporary home for the king while Gyeongbuk Palace was being built. Unlike other palaces that have a North-South orientation, ChangGyeong Palace faces East-West. It also connects to Jongmyo Shrine, a holy place for the Joseon Dynasty, where ancestral rites were practiced for previous kings and queens.
Admission: Adults (19 to 64 years old): 1,000 won (groups: 800) Children (7 to 18 years old): 500 won (groups: 400). Free for children 6 and under, as well as for seniors 65 and over.
Hours 9 AM to 5:30 PM November through February and 9 AM to 6 PM may through October. Closed on Tuesdays. This website has some information in English.
Directions: Located on Subway Line 4 Hyehwa Station (stop 420) or Jongno-3-ga or Jongno-5-ga Stations (stop 131 or 130).
Unhyeon-gung hosts the re-enactment of the wedding ceremony of King Gojong and Queen Min. It is a former royal residence. At one time, it was known as the Palace of the Queen since it was used for royal wedding preparation. This was where the Queen prepared for her wedding and where she was instructed in her duties. King Kojong lived at Unhyeon until he was 12 years old.
Admission:There is a small admission fee to enter (about W700). Audio tour guide headsets are available in Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean - ask for them as you pay your entry fee.Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 from November to February, from 9:00 to 19:00 from March to May and September to October. Hours in July and August are 9:00 to 20:00. The palace is closed on Mondays.
Some information including directions, etc. in English on the palace's website.
Directions: Go out Exit 4 of Anguk Subway Station, line 3, stop 328). The palace is about 40 meters up the street.
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Last Updated on 2014-06-12
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