Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul Korea 2018

Changdeokgung Palace was built in 1405 by the great Joseon Dynasty, also responsible for the development of the Korean language that everyone could learn (Chinese was controlled and it was illegal for many to learn it). The palace was burned down by invaders from Japan and rioting locals, being rebuilt each time to the original specifications. It's a very large complex in the middle of Seoul

The Arrival

I took the subway from Gangham district to the Anguk station and walked over on a very brisk (Ok, almost miserably cold) day in December to the entrance. It's a rather massive and imposing series of buildings, home of the king as he worked on affairs of state.


The Palace

There is a loose path to follow to the east, and one can purchase extra tickets for the Secret Garden and the private grounds. Each of these are different tours but until the starting point, you have the option to wander around the main grounds to the throne room, guest shop and King's bedroom and informal office.



I went to the collection point for the guided tour of the grounds and waited for the English language group to form. Our guide was funny, engaged, and well versed on the history and grounds.

He led us north and down hill toward the old Library and ponds. Royal buildings are signified by each external roofing beam being painted green with a plum flower on the end to signify the ownership of the structure.

We passed through the 'Gate of Immortality'. Hopefully that carries over with me for while.
We then were led down paths heading farther north to outer housing and a groomed pond in the shape of Korea, another royal set of residences that were much more informal and functional, a retreat from official duties.

All buildings are heated using hot air from underground ovens that would circulate under the floors and out stacks to the back of the grounds. It's fairly intricate work, but given how damn cold Korea is in the winter, I am sure it was quite welcome to feel warm floors.
We were then led back to the southwest and towards the entrance. This is where the government officials had offices and the royal shrine is located. Also from the front, one can see the signal fires on the top of Namsan Mountain to the south. They were used at a relay signal system to report invasions from all over Korea. Some of them covering hundreds of miles.

Summary

The Palace is a very cool and historically rich location with beautifully manicured grounds. It can take all day to see it, along with the various other sites around the district such as Jongmyo Shrine and Namsan mountain.

Only tip I have: Go in the summer. Omg, so so cold in winter, and no heat around.



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