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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 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.
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.
Children's Grand Park is one of the largest children's parks in Asia. It includes a zoo, a botanical garden, an amusement park, outdoor concert stages and physical training facilities. In spring and fall, many young children and their teachers can be seen here on school picnics. As an educational venue, it is not only fun, it also provides interesting information about plant and animal life. Budget a full day for your visit.
Located in the heart of the city, the Olympic Park was built when the Summer Olympics visited Seoul in 1988. It houses tennis courts, weight-lifting and fencing gymnasiums, a gymnastics arena and an indoor swimming pool. With the games done and dusted, these venues now play host to numerous cultural and sporting events, and the park is a popular tourist attraction by itself. Enter through the majestic Peace Gate with the Olympic flame atop, and soak in the freshness of manicured lawns donned with stone and metal sculptures. An inanimate version of Hodori, the games' mascot welcomes you at the Olympic Museum to celebrate the history of the games and witness various exhibitions.
Located within Olympic Park, this beautiful outdoor sculpture park has been chosen as one of the five best open-air sculpture parks in the world. Around 200 masterpieces from world-class sculptors are displayed here, so allow plenty of time to see them all. Founded to symbolize the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the park is a perfect day trip for families, or simply a wonderful place to enjoy a day out in natural surroundings. Admission is free.