Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Changdeokgung Palace

Photobucket Changdeokgung Palace(Main Hall)

Changdeokgung is one of the original five palaces of the Joseon Dynasty and was constructed between 1405 and 1412, as an auxiliary palace to Gyeonbokgung by King Taejong. It has experienced a turbulent history and along with Gyeonbokgung was burnt down in 1592, when the Japanese armies invaded.

Rebuilt in 1609, it became Seoul's main centre of power until 1868, after restoration of the the main palace Gyeonbokgung, which had laid in ruins from the latter part of the 16th century, was finally completed .

In 1997 the palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Sight and to visit it you must join a tour. I have to admit I didn't really enjoy this, as it took away the freedom of really being able to enjoy and appreciate the experience, making it all feel somewhat rather like a school trip.

Walking through the huge Donhwamun Gate at the entrance you then go over the Geumcheon Bridge. Made of stone it was constructed during the 11th year of King Tae-Jong's reign in 1411 and is the oldest of its kind that remains in Seoul today.

Further on you come to Injeongjeon, the main throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace, where the kings would have conducted the affairs of state and held official functions for foreign ambassadors.

It is possible to view inside, where you can see the throne sitting against a screen with pictures of the sun, moon, and mountains on it. Above this are carvings of dragons and mythical birds and although dimly lit, it's all still extremely beautiful to see.

Biwon Garden(Secret Garden)

In 1463 the palace was expanded by King Sejo, who created the Biwon Garden(Secret Garden). This served as a recreational area for the royal family and provides an example of ancient Korean landscaping.

Here there are lotus ponds, stone bridges, pavilions and imported trees over 300 hundred years old, which all conform with the topography of the landscape and are in harmony with nature.

You can see all of the photos here.