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Best Religious Sites in Seoul

By: Cityseeker
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Myeongdong Cathedral

Myeongdong Cathedral was the first redbrick building to be constructed in Seoul. It is located in one of the most affluent shopping districts in Korea. Consecrated in 1898, it was built in the Gothic style and took four years to complete. The main edifice is 23 meters (75.45 feet) high, while the steeple soars another 22 meters (72.17 feet). Twenty different types of bricks in two colors, red and gray, were used in the construction. Sunday English masses are at 10a. The cathedral has been designated a historical site.

Seoul, South Korea
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Jongmyo Shrine

This Confucian royal sanctuary is considered to be the oldest, and was built by founder of the Joseon Dynasty in the 14th Century. The original shrine was destroyed and the present one was built in the 17th Century. Nestled amid verdant hills, the Jongmyo Shrine spans across 19.4 hectares (47.94 acres) and has an oval layout. Built as an ode to the kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty and to preserve their memory, ancestral tablets of the monarchy are preserved at this shrine. Featuring 19 chambers, it holds 19 commemorative tablets of kings and 30 of queens. It also showcases the accomplishments of each of these royals. A significant vestige of the Joseon Dynasty, the shrine is classified as a UNESCO site for still abiding to ancient customs like the Jongmyo Jaerye, regarded as the oldest memorial ceremony in the world.

Seoul, South Korea
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Jogyesa Temple

Amidst the city's modern landscape, the signature Korean roof of the Jogyesa is not hard to find. This major temple of the Jogye Order is an advocate of Korean Buddhism and attracts a large number of locals and visitors throughout the year. The Dancheong or traditional, artistic motifs hand-painted on the exterior facade are exceptional and colorful buntings ooze a festive feel. The shrine houses three Seokgamoni statues and overlooks an exquisite Jinsinsari pagoda. Across the street, pick up Buddhist prayer beads, scriptures and incense that make for great gifts and souvenirs.

Seoul, South Korea
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Bongeunsa

The Bongeunsa Temple is one of oldest and most traditional of its kind in Korea. This Buddhist shrine, located amidst cosmopolitan buildings and at a short distance from COEX mall, is a branch of the main Chogyesa Temple downtown. Founded in 794 in the Silla Kingdom, it has a longstanding legacy. The colored decorative motifs on the external facade and traditional roof are hard to miss. Another unique feature of the temple is its 3,479 plates containing 13 different sutras. Visitors should also be sure to check out the wooden nameplates hanging under the eaves of the temple. The calligraphy was written by one of the greatest Korean masters, Chusa Kim Jeong-hui. The place comes alive during the annual Jeongdaebulsa ceremony, where monks march around with holy scriptures and reciting verses.

Seoul, South Korea
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