In 1392, Seoul (or Hanyang as it was then called) became the capital of Korea, Gyeongbokgung Palace was built for Korea's ruling family. Then king T'aejo was warned that the mountain across the river was exerting a fire influence on the palace grounds. This is the reason that two mythical beats, carved from stone, were placed outside the main gate, Gwanghwanum. Nevertheless, it was destroyed several times, both by Japanese invaders and by Korean serfs who wanted to destroy the records kept inside. It was always rebuilt, lastly so in 1969 when, however, former wooden structures were replaced by concrete.
The palace grounds of Gyeongbokgung have an almost rectangular shape. Once inside, the noise of the city is left behind the gate, and I fell directly into a performance of the guards of the palace. Although they looked pretty menacing, they could even be approached and inspected from up close. From here, I started walking around the quite large area, visiting the highlights, including several temples, residences of the royal family, pavilions on quiet ponds. One of the interesting sights were the chimneys in the garden behind the Queen's residence, which were used as an outlet for smoke of the floorheating of the building.
Another great spot was the Hyangwonjeong, another, much smaller pavilion in a small pond, with a characteristic bridge leading to the pavilion's islet. It was a beautiful late autumn afternoon, the sun still had some strength, and it was an almost perfect atmosphere to visit this place. There were quite a lot of visitors, mainly Korean and Japanese, I saw a couple celebrating their marriage, teenagers on their day out with school. Perfect for just sitting down every now and then and enjoying the peace of the palaces, the laughter of the young visitors, the obsessive picture taking of the Japanese.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Gyeongbokgung Palace (South Korea). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Gyeongbokgung Palace.
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