Comprising of peaks crowned by striking rock formations, Mount Dobongsan is a hiker's haven. A part of the Bukhansan National Park, this craggy mountain range shelters a dramatic contrast of gleaming granite and wild greenery. Divided by beauteous valleys, it also cocoons temples like Cheonchuksa and Mangwolsa. One of its most prominent peaks is the Seoninbong, which is sliced with 37 hiking trails alone.
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.
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.
Located atop Mount Togyangsan, the Haengjusansong Fortress is where General Kwon Yul, with 2300 soldiers, defeated over 30,000 Japanese troops during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1593. The name of the fortress bears a fascinating historical context; in Korean, the word "Sansong" means "fortress" and "Haengju" means "apron". Victory was achieved with the aid of several women who used their aprons to carry the stones, thus giving the fortress its name. Over the centuries since it inception, the fortress has braved the ravages of battle and time, yet continues to stand strong even today. Shrouded in mystery, this enigmatic fortress harbors quite a few treasures including relics that date back to the Baekje period, as well as a modest shrine named Chungjangsa. Several archaeological investigations have been carried out here as well, revealing historical nuances that might have been lost if not for the shelter of this mighty fortification.
The National Museum of Korea is one of the most extensive museums in Seoul, housing art and archaeological objects from Korean prehistory through to the end of the Chosun Dynasty (1910). Throughout the three-floor museum, there are 13,000 artifacts in six permanent galleries on display. Audio guides, touch screens, and video rooms all help to bring the ancient world alive here. In addition to regular exhibitions, the museum offers special educational programs such as public lectures, arts and crafts classes, and special tours. There are over 220,000 objects in the collections. In addition there are special exhibition halls, education facilities, a children's museum, a huge outdoor exhibition area, restaurants, cafes, shops, and other amenities.
The 27,000 square meter(6.67 acres) Samsung Museum of Art Complex was designed in 1997. It provides support to cultural and artistic activities, thus increasing their life span and raising their historical value. The Institute is involved in the following: conservation of metal and ceramic works, Korean paintings and contemporary and modern art works. Artworks are preserved here through application of the most advanced technology. The experts undertake the material study to establish appropriate environmental conditions and develop better conservation and restoration techniques.
Built in 1971, the N Seoul Tower, located at the peak of Mt.Namsan is 236.7 meters (777 feet) tall. The iconic landmark, built for transmitting signals of radio and television, is visible from nearly everywhere in the city. Now, a famed tourist attraction, the tower offers stunning views from the top. One of the most romantic places in Seoul, the N Seoul Tower or Namsan Tower is a favorite for couples and as any Korean Drama fan will recognize, is the top spot to profess undying love, much like the Eiffel Tower in France. Around the roof terrace, there are locks in a colorful display, proclaiming messages of true love, as couples come here to leave a love lock as a symbol of their devotion to each other. Accessible by cable car, car or hiking, the tower has other attractions including art exhibitions, restaurants, and a cultural experience center.
Located just north of Namsan Park, Namsangol Hanok Village is a re-creation of a small village which depicts the architecture and gardens of the Joseon Dynasty (1393-1910). There are five restored traditional houses decorated with authentic furniture and fittings from that era. A large pavilion overlooks a beautiful pond and an outdoor theater hosts dance and drama performances on weekends. There is also a hall displaying traditional handicrafts and a kiosk selling souvenirs.
Designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is one of the most iconic landmark structures in Seoul. The cutting-edge modernity of this mega-structure coupled with its unique design won Seoul city the title of World Design Capital in 2010. The structure of the building is curvaceous and fluid, devoid of any straight lines or walls. It houses as many as five spaces inside, namely an art hall, a museum, a design lab, the Oullim square and the Dongdaemun History and Culture park. Visit the DDP at night for a dazzling view of this modern wonder.
Jeongdong Theater was the first modern theater of traditional vocal music and plays in Korea. It is home to the Traditional Performing Arts Series, which features dance and music, including Samulnori—a four-member drum and dancing group, and wind and string instrument concerts. Performances run from an hour to two hours. Japanese and English subtitles are provided. After the show, visitors are encouraged to join the performers on stage. Notably, this area in downtown Seoul was recently designated a cultural district. Reservations are necessary because there are only 400 seats there.