As far as I can tell, all of the palaces were at least partially destroyed one or more times in their history (fire is a big problem for palaces!). Most recently, the palaces were damaged during the Japanese occupation (1910-45) and the Korean government is restoring them in an ongoing process.
Chang Deok Gung and the Secret Garden
This palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably the most beautiful. Originally built as a secondary palace in 1405, it became the main palace in 1610. The garden area behind the palace is more like a forest preserve and was used for relaxing and writing poetry.
|I really like the ornamentation on the buildings.|
|Changdeokgung is the palace most in harmony with the surrounding landscape.|
|I could relax here. Maybe even write some poetry.|
Chang Gyeong Gung
This palace was built as an annex to Changdeokgung for some dowager queens because Changdeokgung was getting too full of relatives.
|Changgyeonggung had the best lake.|
|This is where they stored the kings' placenta. I don't know why...|
Located just south of Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung for convenience, this shrine holds the ancestral tablets of kings and queens and is the location where royal ancestral rites are held.
|The dark stone down the center denotes the road for ghosts. Behind each of those doors is an ancestral tablet.|
|This is the special outfit for the king during rites. That hat looks heavy!|
Gyeong Bok Gung
Built in 1395, this palace was the main palace for most of the Joseon Dynasty. It is the largest (and most crowded) of the palaces.
|I found Gyeongbukgung very imposing. The overcast sky didn't help.|
|I liked that you could see mountains from all over the palace grounds.|
|Though imposing, Gyeongbukgung is beautiful.|
Deok Su Gung
This palace is currently surrounded by modern Seoul and is the smallest (and least crowded) of the palaces I visited. However, it suffered particular destruction during the Japanese occupation and was apparently 3 times larger originally.
|This is the parade ground and throne room. They're so small!|
|I can imagine that Deoksugung was quite grand before it was demolished by the Japanese.|