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Open Air Museum «A Palace of Shining Happiness» - Palace tour

Open Air Museum «A Palace of Shining Happiness» - Palace tour

January 2020 · 4 min read · Ojeong-gu



Gyeongbokgung Palace was almost absolutely destroyed during the Imjin War, Japannese invasion of Korea. During the war king and a royal family should have leave a Gyeongbokgung Palace, and they moved to another palace — Doksugung Palace. So Gyeongbokgung Palace was empty for about 3 centures. And only during King Kojeong’s government Gyeongbokgung Palace was restored and became a royal family’s residence again. 

Imjin War (1592–1598) — Japannese invasion of Korea. This war left a huge mark in Korean history. This war destroyed a plenty of beautiful historical and cultural places. Also, it took away many lifes. 
However, in 1911 Japannese army landed to Korean peninsula again and Gyeongbokgung Palace got injured again. Almost all constructions were destroyed, and only 330 were saved. 
Now, let’s enter the palace and look inside it. Let’s look at the construction which were saved till today.

This palace is always crowded. Mostly, these are tourists. Because Gyeongbokgung Palace is number 1 in the lists of top sights of Seoul.
The gates which lead to the Throne Hall

Along the stone track we will go to the heart of the Palace — to the Throne Hall. As you can see this stone way is divided into 3 lines. Do you know why? The middle part is the widest one, and it was used only by the King. The side two paths were used by others. Along the path you can see small pillars with some wrtitings. These pillars mean the rank of the officials, as higher rank, as closer official could come to the throne hall, i.e. to the king, during the appointment. 

This is a path to the Throne Hall (the 3rd path is almost invisible on this photo)

And here it is, a Throne Hall, and Throne itself. The msot important and official ceremonies and appointments took a place here. On the top of the Throne hall you can see golden dragons, which was associated with a power and supreme authority. I will emphasize that it is an only golden thing in the Palace. This is one of the main specifics of the Joseon Dynasty, they didn’t use much gold in the Royal construction. Remember the Petergrof in Russia, which is shining of golden stuff. Joseon Dynasty kings thought that golden decoration is wasting of money, and instead of it, it is more useful to use these money on development of country. 

Throne Hall

All buildings inside are decorated with a hand drawing in old Korean style. All colors are natural, and they were waterproofed, so they didn’t wash out even in rainy days.

On the building roof you can see small figures of animals. These animals were protecting the buildings from evil spirits. The number of figures shows the importance of the building, as many figures are there so more important the building. 
)Animal figures on the building roof

One more famous construction of the palace is a Gyeonghoeru Pavilion. This pavilion stands on the pound. It was used as a place for official ceremonies and parties. That is why, it is also called ‘A pavilion of joyful meetings’. The pavilion stands on 48 columns. It was designed to keep it cool during the hot summer, and warm during the freezing winter days. 

)Gyeonghoeru Pavilion

)Gyeonghoeru Pavilion

If we will go deep inside the palace, we will meet an another pavilion or pound, a‘fragrant’ pound or ‘pound of the flying aroma’ Hyangwonjeong pavilion. It was built in the end of XIX century according to the King Kojeong’s decree. It was built for a queen and her court ladies. In the pound lotuses grow, and fishes swim. It is super beautiful here in Spring. 

)Hyangwonjeong pavilion

If we will go closer to the Eastern gates, we will reach a folk museum. There is no entrance fee. Anyone can enter it and learn about korean history and culture from a very old time till today. Also, there are exhibitions which represent some traditions. For example, you can see the scene fron a traditional wedding ceremony. Also, there is an exhibition dedicated to the celebration of 60-years anniversary of parents. 

Palace at fall
) Throne hall with modern skyscrappers on the background

Gyeongbokgung Palace is not just a palace or museum, it is a park at the same time. If you like a nature, you can walk around here for hours. I recommend to visit the palace in Spring or Fall. Actually, spring and fall are the best season to visit a whole South Korea. Because during these seasons Korea looks stunning, and weather is perfect for walking tours. 

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