Thursday, February 13, 2014

Deoksu Palace

Daehanmum gate
Down the street from the Lotte hotel in Seoul is one of the most interesting of the old Korean Palaces, the Deoksugung (gung means palace). It’s really beautiful and peaceful in the somewhat chaotic area of central downtown Seoul. It's charming and easy to visit.
Deoksu Palace is one of the five great palaces from the Joseon Dynasty which lasted over 500 years. Deoksugung was originally built as a residence for Prince Wolsan in the 15th century. After all the other palace buildings were destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion of 1592, King Seonjo established a temporary residence here. Successive Korean Kings resided here until, in 1897 King Gojong proclaimed to the nation and the world the establishment of the “Great Han Empire”. The palace was renamed Deoksugung in 1907, when King Sunjong ascended the throne and it has been known by that name to this day.
Although located in the busy centre of Seoul, Deoksugung is very tranquil. On first arriving there you’ll see Daehanmun Gate. This is the main entrance gate to Deoksugung Palace. A daily show of the changing of the guards takes place here at 11:00, 14:00 and 15:30. 
Geumcheongyo Bridge
After entering Daehanmum Gate you will pass over Geumcheongyo Bridge. It was built over the stream that comes from the north and encircled "Oedang" which means the outer buildings of the palace. The bridge, 12.9m/42.3 ft long and 12.5m/41 ft wide, was constructed in 1411. Geumcheongyo is one of the oldest stone bridges that remain in Seoul today.
Junghwajeon, the Main Throne Room
Ahead you will come to Junghwa Gate and Junghwajeon, the Main Throne Room. All of the official affairs took place in this building and meetings with foreign envoys. This is the main building in Deoksugung Palace. Originally it was two stories high and a wall was built around it. Now it stands at one story and the wall is gone, leaving the Junghwa Gate pointless.
Junghwajeon Throne
Perfect for travelers with limited time, Deoksugung Palace gives a good idea of the architecture and style architecture during the days of Korea as the Japanese were taking over. This place shows an impressive juxtaposition of the Palace’s spacious grounds surrounded by the icons of modern life, shopping malls and skyscrapers which shows the value Korea places on its history and its future. Deoksugung Palace is a must in downtown Seoul.
Highly recommended!

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