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Established in 1994, the War Memorial of Korea is one of the largest of its kind in the world and occupies the former army headquarters. It honors those who lost their lives fighting for their country through the course of the Korean War. The memorial comprises both indoor and outdoor exhibition halls that display a curated selection of 10,000 military relics, artillery, ammunition, documents, photographs and other artifacts from the museum's 33,000-strong collection pertaining to the nation's long and illustrious war history. Although primarily focused on the events of the Korean War, the museum also delves into battles preceding it and the international wars that Korean troops were involved in to provide a wider and more comprehensive understanding of the topic. An evocative memorial to the cost of war, as well as a testament to the nation's military prowess, the War Memorial of Korea is a chronicle of the events that shaped the geo-political history of the Korean Peninsula.
Having a rich historical background, Jongno remains the epicenter of Seoul. Many of Seoul's government offices, cultural establishments and businesses can be found here. Most of Seoul's ancient royal palaces are conveniently located within walking distance. From Jongno, roads lead to other famous attractions, such as Insadong—famous for traditional teahouses, Korean ceramics, and antiques and the Chongmyo Royal Shrine—artifacts and antiques of the Chosun Dynasty. Every New Year, people gather in Chonggak where there is a pavilion which houses a giant bell. Following the Buddhist tradition, the bell is struck to ring out the old year and bring in the new.
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.
This palace is the most preserved among major and minor palaces in Seoul, because the descendants of the royal family lived here until recent years. This is the one of the best places to observe the culture of the nobility of old Korea. This building has few restricted areas, with the southern half of this building widely open to the public. In addition, you can take various classes to learn about Korean culture, like court etiquette, tea ceremony, and general formality.
Originally named Sugang-gung, this impressive palace was constructed in 1419 by King Sejong and is one of the oldest of all existing royal palaces in South Korea. It was built in memory of King Sejong's father, Taejong. Under Japanese colonial rule, the ornate palace and its grounds served as a zoo. It was not until 1911 that the name was changed to Changyong Palace. In 1986, the building was restored to its original glory and opened to the public as a historical monument.
Gyeongbok Palace, sometimes referred to as Gyeongbokgung Palace, was constructed in 1395 by King Taejo. Largest among the Five Grand Palaces built in Seoul around this time, Gyeongbok served as the central palace during the Joseon dynasty, doubling as the official kingly residence and seat of the Joseon government. The palace was designed with majestic towers, grand facades, intricate furnishings, a massive royal court, and no fewer than 7,700 individual rooms. Much of the palace was restored in the 19th century, and it continues to undergo work as part of a campaign to restore the site to its original glory. At once visually stunning and culturally significant, Gyeongbok Palace and its onsite museums offer excellent insight into Korean history.
Encased in glass and glazed with gold, 63 Square or 63 Building as it is also known is a shimmering beauty that makes a prominent appearance on the city's skyline. Overlooking the Hangang River, this landmark skyscraper holds its own as its glistening form soars above the rest of the city, measuring in at a height of 249 meters (817 feet). Having opened in 1985, the building was intended as a landmark for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and is regarded today as one of the most emblematic buildings in Seoul. It is home to the popular 63 Seaworld, 63 Sky Art Gallery and 63 Wax Museum, but is most well known for its Love Elevators; these elevators offer a brief romantic escape to couples by taking them on a minute-long ride through the building.
The Hwaseong Fortress is one of the magnificent wonders of South Korea. It was constructed towards the end of the 18th Century by the then king of the Joseon Dynasty, King Yeongjo. Initially constructed as a memorial to his father, the fortress today is one of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. Designed scientifically, the fortress consists of four gates that are interestingly constructed facing each of the four directions. Of them all, the Northern gate is a landmark in itself as it is the largest gate in all of Korea. Multiple secret gateways - to assist the army to carry out stealth operations, crenels and arrowslits built to withstand battle are signs of the formidable architecture of Hwaseong Fortress. The fortress is the center-point for the Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival celebrated annually.