On our first (and okay, only) full day in Seoul, we made going to the Gyeongbokgung Palace (referred to hereafter as the “G-Palace”) our top priority.
The construction of this impressive complex began in 1395 by the Joseon Dynasty, and served as their primary palace for five hundred years. It continued to expand for 300 years, until the Japanese destroyed much of it in 1592. It was not rebuilt until 1867, under the direction of Prince Regent Heungseon Daewongun. At this point, the complex swelled to an impressive 500+ buildings.
Unfortunately for the G-Palace, its misery at the hands of the Japanese was not over. It was destroyed again during the Japanese occupation of the early 20th century, with the Japanese tearing down 90% of the palace buildings in 1915. Adding insult to injury, the Japanese happened to build their colonial headquarters directly in front of the palace complex. This building has since been removed, and the G-Palace has been continually restored since 1990.
So, if you weren’t exactly sure why Korea and Japan still have beef, this is a good example.
Anyway, we spent about two hours wandering through the palace grounds. You couldn’t go into any of the buildings, but could take a peek inside. Here are some pictures of our wanderings:
This is Geunjeongjeon, or “All affairs will be properly managed if Your Majesty demonstrates diligence.” Both names are quite a mouthful. This is the main palace.
As we neared the edge of the grounds on the opposite end, we happened upon this:
We ended the day by watching the changing of the guards, a reenactment of a ceremony that once occurred at the palace:
Finally, a few more random photos of our walk (if you’re not yet photo-ed out):
What I liked most about the G-Palace was that even though it is obviously a huge tourist attraction, it’s large enough that you’re not on top of other people the whole time. There were certain points where we didn’t see anyone else at all. That’s one of the things that made this visit truly special. If ever you’re in Seoul, it’s definitely a must-see!