Korea series: Gyeongbok Palace

It was our first full day in Seoul. Both of us are suffering jetlag and woke up as early as 3am. It took us a while to figure out how to go the Palace. We have no idea where to get the subway from our hotel and by the time we found one, it is a totally different stress factor to figure out how to get and use the pass card. I guess this is why we love to travel, its times like this that always stands out of the greatest adventures.

Built in 1395, the Gyeongbok Palace (translated to Palace of Shining Happiness) is the iconic symbol of the Joseon Dynasty. After the 14th century Japanese invasion, it was burnt to the ground and was left in ruins for 3 centuries. It was rebuilt again in 1867. And after the assassination of Empress Myeongsong in 1895, the imperial family left the palace and never came back.

I have watched a handful of Korean Historical dramas to recognize the guard outfits. It you think those are colorful enough wait till you get to the royal costumes.

At the Main (Gwanghwamun) gate. They do have a schedule for changing of the guard ceremonies.

At the Inner (Heungnyemun) gate. This what fascinates me about the palace design, in Europe castles the enemy only has to go through a moat and one massive gate. In this palace, once you went through the massive front gate, you have to do it again on the inner gate. This gives the people at the inner sanctum time to retrench or escape.

The Throne (Geunjeongjeon) Hall. This is where the King formally meets foreign envoys. 

The Pavilion (Gyeonghoeru) Hall. It is often used to hold important banquets. 

The detail on the roof of the Pavilion Hall.

The Hyangwonjeong Pavilion. The two storied Hexagonal Pavilion sits on top of an artificial island in the middle of the lake connected by a wooden bridge. 

Amazing details on one of the building structures at the Palace grounds.

This is how would a structure would look like without those colorful details. What do you like best?

There were a lot of low surrounding walls and gates like these around the palace grounds. My guess was to either to provide privacy or to control who goes over a certain area in the palace. 

The tall structure next to the palace buildings serves as a chimney for the underground heating. 

After we took the scheduled palace tour, we are now tired and very hungry. I still want to take photos and walk around the area but my sister is getting cranky by the minute. I don't blame her. I would like to come back here again and study more than its history. I want to look further on how its design and architecture or its similarities to other palaces in Asia. 

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