30 July 2013

Palaces and A Shrine

This past weekend (my last weekend in Korea!!! T_T) I finished up touring the main palaces of Seoul and the associated Shrine. I didn't go to Gyeong Hui Gung because I forgot about it until just now when I started writing this blog post...

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...

Jongmyo Shrine
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.

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