Arguably the most popular and beautiful palace on the list, the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung Palace is so vast that it easily took me an hour and a half just to cover it all (though looking at the layout now, i’m not sure i even covered the entire place – click here for the full layout). It served as the main royal palace during the Joseon dynasty until it was burnt down during the Japanese invasion. King Gojong recommissioned the reconstruction 273yrs later but it was again destroyed during the Japanese rule. The Korean government has spent a reasonable amount of time and resources to make an accurate reconstruction, hence the new-ish look. I strongly recommend looking up when viewing each structure as you’ll notice the intricate designs on their roof tiles and ceiling beams. I particularly love that the Bukhansan mountains are looming behind it, giving the place a nice contrast between nature and the inhabited. The National Folk Museum is also located within the palace grounds and is free with your entry.
When i visited Seoul 4yrs ago, i was convinced that i didn’t find any of the Korean palaces interesting. Maybe it was because i flew in after spending an amazing week in Japan and was accustomed to their tight-knit temples and shrines, or because snow had blanketed the palace grounds and made it look plain and empty. Whatever the reason, i discovered a new admiration for this country’s history and culture during this trip. And looking at this set of visuals, i can see why. I just wonder why i didn’t visit it in the first place.
Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-820
Closed Tuesdays, 9am-6pm (opening hours vary depending on the month – accurate timings on website)
Admission: Adult – 3,000won; children – 1,500won; seniors over 65yrs and children 6yrs and under – free
Nearest station: Gyeongbokgung station