The history of Seoul is an incredible journey back into thousands of years. The city has managed to keep and preserve incredible architectural masterpieces although a large part of them have been torn to the ground and restored again. I had already seen one of the palaces in the capital and I was eager to visit this one – the most beautiful, according to everyone.
The Changdeokgung Palace is one of the “five large palaces”, built by the kings of the Joseon dynasty. It was built as a second palace after the main one Gyeongbokgung. The main difference for Changdeokgung is that it has been built with the full intention to be integrated inside its natural environment. The buildings were meant to be in harmony with the landscape according to the baesanimsu principle. This means that the ideal house is built with a mountain behind it and a river in front. The palace structures are settled on the south with a huge “secret garden” in the back and in full harmony in the north with the surrounding environment.
Donhwamun Gate – this is the main gate at the Changdeokgung Palace entrance. Initially, it has been built in 1412 during the reign of King Taejo.
Jinseonmun Gate – this gate is the second one after Donhwamun and is smaller. In order to get to the throne room, it is necessary to go through three gates.
Injeongjeon Hall – this is the throne hall inside the complex. It has been used by the king and his retinue for councils and meetings with foreign guests. Aside from that, there were also coronations here and other royal events such as weddings. From two of the sides up front, you will see stones according to which they oriented themselves as to where they should be standing according to their importance and the rank of the guest.
Despite that the original buildings of Changdeokgung were destroyed by a fire, for their reconstruction, it has been claimed that they keep their high level of authenticity.
Inside many stores nearby the palace, traditional dresses called Hanbok are offered and they can be rented.
Nakseonjae Complex – this separate part has quite an interesting history. It has been built during the time of King Heonjong for his concubine. The then queen, the wife of the king, couldn’t bring him a child, so the king brought a woman named Gyeongbin. This is how he had the opportunity to be close to her until his death. The interesting thing is that these buildings are colorless unlike the others in the complex.
Huwon Secret Garden
Changdeokgung was loved more than any other palace by the kings of the Choson dynasty thanks to the spacious and beautiful garden. It has been used as a place for rest from by the members of the royal family. It is very picturesque and is suitable for a relaxing walk, taking almost 60% of the entire palace area. The garden is the best part of the palace. It preserves its original topography, including a couple of lotus lakes and a small stream. It is especially beautiful during the autumn when the autumn leaves create a whimsical atmosphere around the little lakes and pavilions.
On the way out of the garden and the palace, you will notice a tree, which is considered to be more than a 750 years old.
No matter how you look at it, the complex is huge and magnificent! It is part of the world cultural heritage of UNESCO and it is one of the most remarkable palaces in Seoul.
How to get there
- Anguk Station, Subway Line № 3, Exit #3
- Combined ticket for all palaces: Changdeokgung Palace (including Huwon Secret Garden), Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine: 10 000 ₩
- One-time ticket: 3000 ₩
- A ticket for the secret garden: 5000 ₩
- A ticket for the secret garden with a tour guide included: 8000 ₩