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Feel the Charm of Korea on a Tour of Four Grand Palaces of Seoul

During the Joseon period (1392–1910) of Korean history, Seoul was called Hanyang and was the capital of the Korean kingdom. It is home to many historic sites such as palaces, castle gates, and shrines. Gyeongbok Palace and Deoksu Palace are some of the most popular attractions where visitors can get a glimpse of the daily life of the Joseon royal family. The clear sky and excellent weather in the fall make the atmosphere of Korean palaces even more enjoyable, which attracts a large number of visitors in that season and especially on Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays. Let us take a look at the four grand palaces of Seoul.

# Gyeongbok Palace
Gyeongbok Palace was built during the reign of King Taejo (1392–1398), the founder of the Joseon dynasty, and was the first palace of the era. It is famous for Geunjeongjeon (Throne Hall), its largest wooden structure; a beautiful pavilion called Gyeonghoeru (Banquet Hall); the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion which was the first place in Korea to get electricity in the late 19th century; and Gwanghwamun, the main gate to the palace. Visitors can see both the facilities for governmental affairs, which were used by kings and officials, and the living quarters of the royal family. They can also observe traditional performances, the changing of the royal guard as well as experience a Korean tea ceremony.

Phone Number

+82-2-3700-3900

Website

www.royalpalace.go.kr/html/eng

Opening Hours

9AM–6PM (in Sep and Oct), closed on Tuesdays

Directions

Subway Orange Line No. 3, Gyeongbok Palace Station, walk for 3 min. from Exit 5

Entrance Fee

19 to 64 years old 3,000 won, 7 to 18 years old 1,500 won. Free for children under the age of 6, seniors 65 years and older, and anyone wearing Korean traditional clothes (Hanbok). Also free every last Wednesday of the month.

 

# Deoksu Palace

Previously known as Gyeongung Palace, it was renamed into “Deoksu Palace” by King Sunjong (r. 1907–1910) in commemoration of the virtues and long life of his father, King Gojong (r. 1863–1907). The walkway along the outside part of the stone wall of Deoksu Palace is a famous dating destination. But the palace itself is a witness of the volatile early modern history of Korea, such as the king’s taking refuge in the Russian legation, the proclaiming of the Great Korean Empire, and the signing of the Protectorate Treaty in 1905. Visitors can feel the harmony of a Korean royal residence with a western-style garden.

Phone Number

+82-2-771-9951

Website

deoksugung.go.kr/eng/index.asp

Opening Hours

9AM–9PM, Closed on Mondays

Directions

City Hall Station on Green and Dark Blue Subway Lines (No.1 and No.2), 1 min. walk from Exit 2

Entrance Fee

19 to 64 years old 1,000 won, 7 to 18 years old 500 won. Free for children under the age of 6, seniors 65 years and older, and anyone wearing Korean traditional clothes (Hanbok). Also free every last Wednesday of the month.

 

#Changdeok Palace

Changdeok Palace is located to the left of Mt. Bugak. When all royal palaces were burnt to the ground during the Japanese invasions of 1592–1598, Changdeok Palace was rebuilt first and acted as the primary palace for about 270 years. In 1997, Changdeok Palace was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The main attractions include the Donhwamun Gate (the front gate of the palace), Injeongjeon where coronation ceremonies for several kings of the Joseon Dynasty were performed, and government offices which were located inside the palace to support the kings and the royal family.

Phone Number

+82-2-3668-2300

Website

eng.cdg.go.kr

Opening Hours

9AM–6PM (in Sep and Oct), closed on Mondays

Directions

Subway Orange Line (No. 3), Anguk Station, 5 min. walk from Exit 3

Entrance Fee

25 to 64 years old 8,000 won, 65 years old and older 5,000 won. Free for persons 24 years and younger (excluding foreigners) and seniors  above the age of 65, as well as anyone wearing Korean traditional clothes (Hanbok). Also free every last Wednesday of the month


# Changgyeong Palace

Changgyeong Palace acquired its current shape in the late 15th century during the reign of King Seongjong who renovated the palace for three queen mothers, Jeonghi, Ansun, and Sohye. Located nearby Changdeok Palace, it was not considered an independent palace but rather played a supplementary role as a residential place. Visitors can appreciate Korean architectural styles of the 17th century through Myeongjeongjeon, which is the oldest main hall of all the palaces in Seoul, Myeongjeong Gate, and Honghwa Gate. Other attractions include Okcheongyo (bridge) and Tongmyeongjeon (hall).

Phone Number

+82-2-762-4868

Website

cgg.cha.go.kr

Opening Hours

9AM–6PM (in Sep and Oct), closed on Mondays

Directions

Subway Blue Line (No. 4), Hyehwa Station, 15 min. walk from Exit 4

Entrance Fee

19 to 64 years old 1,000 won, 7 to 18 years old 500 won. Free for children under the age of 6, seniors 65 years and older, and anyone wearing Korean traditional clothes (Hanbok). Also free every last Wednesday of the month.


#Additional Information /Palace Sightseeing Tips
All four palaces are located in the Jongno District of Seoul and easily accessible by public transportation or walking. You can purchase a combined admission ticket for 10,000 won, which includes entrance to the four palaces and Jongmyo Shrine. The combined admission tickets are sold at the ticket offices of each palace as well as the Jongmyo Shrine and must be used within three months from the purchasing date.

Lee Hyun Woo  leehw@agrinet.co.kr

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