Attraction 99 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-360, South Korea Published on: 03-12-2015
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Why Changdeokgung Palace is special ?
Changdeokgung (Hangul, 창덕궁, 昌德宮; literally, "Prospering Virtue Palace") — also known as Changdeokgung Palace or Changdeok Palace — is set within a large park in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It is one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897). As it is located east of Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeokgung — along with Changgyeonggung — is also referred to as the "East Palace" (동궐, 東闕, Donggwol).
Changdeokgung was the most favored palace of many Joseon princes and retained many elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period that were not incorporated in the more contemporary Gyeongbokgung. One such element is the fact that the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the natural topography of the site instead of imposing themselves upon it. It, like the other Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, was heavily damaged during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945). Currently, only about 30% of the pre-Japanese structures survive.
What to explore at Changdeokgung Palace?
Right after the main gate (Donhwamun Gate) and just in front of the main building, these stone pillars caught your attention as you could not figure it for what they were used. As one of the guides explained, these pillars were used as place marker for officials asking audience with the king. The Injeongjeon Hall is the next building you will see, and it is the throne hall of the palace, and also national treasure of Korea. In this hall all the important events of the reign, such as coronation and diplomacy meetings, were taking place.
The are many buildings in the palace, each of them had different purposes during the reign, and were used by the royal family, officials and servants. Particularly interesting is the Kyunjangak, the royal library of Joseon Dinasty. Here the official state exams were taking place in presence of the king.
Hidden inside the palace is the Biwon (Secret Garden), that was a place of calm for the royal family, where they could evade from the strict court’s life. The garden is filled with many kinds of plants and trees, and even though the gloomy and cold weather and grey sky of that day, the red and yellow colour of the leaves gave a warm feeling. There are several pavilions that were used for different activities such a fishing spot or a place for reading, studying and discussing. All these structures blend perfectly with the nature around. These pavilions and the ponds created an amazing view.
How to get to Changdeokgung Palace?
Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station (Subway Line 1, 3 or 5), Exit 6.
Go straight along Donhwamun-ro Street for 10 min.
Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 3. Go straight for 5 min.
Take Bus to Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon: 7025, 109 , 151, 162, 171, 172, 272, 601
Get off from Changdeokgung Palaces bus stop.
- Lovely architecture and history
- A-Must See Palace and Secret Garden
- Wonderful insights into a different era
- Central location, unique changing of the guards experience
- Wonderful little gem in the heart of Seoul
99 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-360, South Korea
Tips for you
The Secret Garden Tour was 90 mins long. There were portions of the tour/walk that were quite a steep climb up and steep descent down. Not recommended for the elderly or heavily pregnant. From the entrance where you purchase & collect the tickets, it's a short walk to the starting point of the Secret Garden. Give yourself some time to queue for tickets and walk to the starting point of the tour. If the tour starts at 11.30am, try to be there by 11.00am. The English guide's accent was quite strong making it rather difficult to understand what he was saying. Due to the heat, the number of people on the tour (more than 50) and the difficult-to-understand English by the guide, I didn't really enjoy the tour. One would probably enjoy the tour/scenery (and weather) at the Secret Garden a lot more in spring or autumn.
Very beautiful and historical place. Must book the Secret Garden tour, they have English, Chinese and Korean. Also, mind the schedule, you need 15-20mins to get to the entrance of the Garden.