Heading over to South Korea anytime soon and looking for historical sites to visit? Here’s what you can expect from South Korean culture. The centre of Korea, Seoul is a giant tourist magnet that proposes everything to delight its tourists from being one of the world’s most popular holiday spots and financial epicenters of East Asia.
From the traditional to ultramodern, Korea’s stunning historical landmarks and architectural attractions are well worth a visit. Among the many attractions one must visit are the nation’s ancient palaces in Seoul, one of which is Changdeokgung Palace.
Changdeokgung Palace was established in 1405 during the Joseon Dynasty. Having constructed in the geomantic areas at the foot of Ungbong Peak of Mount Baegaksan in the northern Seoul, not only were the residential buildings built in harmony with the inner and outer yards but also integrated with their natural setting. Enchanted by its remarkable spatial layout at the mountain range, the palace was designed to embrace the true Korean beauty and its natural features in connection with Pungsu principles. The whole royal structures were placed to the south embodying an extensive rear garden to the north namely Biwon, the Secret Garden, thus making it the quintessence of Joseon-era landscaping.
The history of the construction of Changdeokgung Palace is interesting as its structural design overlaps - both during the Joseon Dynasty and the Japanese invasion (1592-1598). However, there is an aura of timelessness about Changdeokgung Palace, as the grandest buildings were made of wood to frame the windows, doors and walls set on stone platforms with tiled hipped roofs featuring a corbelled multi-bracket system with ornamental carvings. The entire buildings have been pretty much influenced by the development of Korean architecture, landscape planning and gardening designs related to arts for many centuries without diminishing its rationale of the architecture in highlighting the harmony with nature.
Inside the complex lies three primary gates and three courts - an administrative court, royal residential court and official audience court - designed in regards to the traditional Confucian layout principles of Sammun Samjo and Jeonjo Huchim. You will enter Changdeokgung Palace through Donhwamun (돈화문) the entrance of the palace. You can line up here and get tickets right out front. As you walk in, you will see Geumcheongyo Bridge (금청요), the oldest building in the palace. Established in the 1400’s, this historic site is considered as one of the oldest stone bridges in Seoul. Next is the throne hall Injeongjeon (인정전) used for holding major state affairs such as audiences with ministers, coronation ceremonies and receptions of foreign envoys. Seonjeongjeon (선정전) is the ruler’s council hall and is the only structure remaining in the royal palace with a blue-glazed roof tiles. The royal bedchamber lies in the Huijeongdang Hall (휘정당) where the king also spent most of his time working informally, whereas Seongjeonggak (성정각) is where the crown prince lived. Nakseonjae (낙선재) is the hall built for the concubine that the king really loved.
In addition to having exceptional designs, Changdeokgung Palace is well-known for the spacious and beautiful garden in the back, thus it is loved more than any other royal palaces by the kings of Joseon Dynasty. Major areas of the Secret Garden involves Buyongji with the Juhamnu Pavilion (부영지와 주함누) a rectangular pond full of gorgeous lotus flowers planted in each valley, Aeryeonji and Uiduhap (애련지와 의두합) in which lies a little pavilion sticking out at one end representing the lotus flower and the last addition of the garden Buyongji with the Juhamnu Pavilion (존덕정) built with some antique pavilions around a pond.
The Secret Garden was established as palace garden where kings, queens and all the royal family members had their leisure. The landscaped Secret Garden takes up almost 60 per cent of the entire area of Changdeokgung Palace. It’s called ‘secret garden’ because one must walk down into a series of valley to truly see and appreciate its secret world of the hidden charms of the palace. Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy Changdeokgung Palace for splashes of gold or burgundy foliage.
This article is part of a series of stories about Korean Travel destinations. NOW! Jakarta joined the annual media incentive travel sponsored by Korea Travel Organization for Indonesia and Korean Air. Korean Air offers a more convenient flight networks and exclusive privileges with excellent service of around-the-world tickets, entertainment and meals and drinks. Contact Korea Tourism Organization for more enticing tourist destinations in South Korea.
Feb-May and Sept-Oct: 9 AM - 6 PM
Jun-Aug: 9 AM - 6.30 PM
Nov-Jan: 9 AM - 5.30 PM
*Closed on Monday
*Book tickets prior to 1 hour before the palace closes.
Language service for the Palace Building and the Secret Garden tours include Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese with a selection of times. For admission and further details please visit www.cdg.go.kr
Korea Tourism Organization Headquarters
10 Segye-ro, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do 220-170,
Korean Air delivers large-scale multilingual supports in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish. This is an automatic transfer call to regional office based on the language you have chosen. For more details about service information please visit www.koreanair.com