Adventures in East Asia

Superb Historic Gyeongbok Palace at Insadong

Gyeongbokgung or the Palace of Shining Happiness is one of several royal palace compounds in Seoul, rebuilt several times but still offering visitors a fascinating glimpse into Korea's feudal past.


I wasn't expecting anything of the size the Gyeongbokgung's grounds covered and we had to brave the sun's unflinching rays throughout our outdoor exploration. Not that it was regrettable. The architecture, massive courtyards and maze of corridors made for excellent photo opportunities and gave us a decent dose of Korean history.

Though we were exploring the grounds with lots of other tourists, I found it hard to imagine that there were once throngs of palace officials, scholars, eunuchs, concubines, soldiers and slaves, all going about their business in the place. However, some interiors still attempted to give a sense of culture with their inclusion of objects, furniture and decoration.

The Gyeongbokgung contains several buildings, each with their purpose (living quarters, meeting rooms etc), but three of them stood out for me. The first was the two-storey Geunjeongjeon, the main palace buildings where kings were crowned and where they conducted affairs of the state.


It's closest to the main gate near the Gyeongbokgung metro station.


The second was the Gyeonghoeru, a pavilion resting on forty eight stone pillars surrounded by an artificial lake, that was once the site of state banquets. As Linh said, she'd love to have a party there.



The third building was the Hyangwonjeong (shown at the top of this page), an attractive hexagonal pavilion on an island located within an ornamental pond. The foot bridge, though a little worn didn't detract at all in the photos I took.

During our visit, we also caught the changing of the guard ceremoney which takes place every hour from 10am to 3pm.



You can catch a little stomping action in the clip below.

Here's one of the Guards of the Palace gates. That beard disappointingly, was false.


During the ceremony, Linh gives a cheeky thumbs-up whilst an Assistant Commander of the Gate Guard marches past.


There's plenty of detailed information on the Gyeongbokgung on Wikipedia or if you just prefer pictures, check out more photos below and on the Gyeongbokgung set on Flickr.









This entry posted in : Attractions. History. South Korea. Tourism.

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