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.
The National Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art (MMCA) opened another branch on Culture Street, in Seoul. An innovative addition to this particular branch, which sets it apart from its counterparts is that of the madang or courtyard where like-minded people can connect and discuss the topic of art. Striving to keep up with its innovative reputation, the MMCA is equipped with a multipurpose hall, a reference center and a gallery theater. It also houses the MMCA Art Zone and a food café within its premises.
This theater is conveniently located on the northeastern part of Mt. Namsan, within walking distance of Seoul Tower, which overlooks the city, and Namsangol Traditional Folk Village. Come here to enjoy a variety of shows, including music, dance, and drama performances. There is a main hall and small performance halls in addition to an open-air theater (Nori-Madang). Visitors can enjoy performances all year round. You can also enjoy Pansori Seoul'd traditional singing.
Located opposite the National Theater, this institute teaches traditional Korean customs and culture. Classes offered here include tea ceremony, cooking, dancing, how to wear hanbok (Korean traditional clothes), kimchi making, and the etiquette of a traditional Korean wedding ceremony. These traditions are learned through direct participation. Tour groups are provided with special programs. The average class lasts from one to two hours and anyone is welcome to attend. A fee of KRW400,000 per lesson is charged for a group of ten.
One of the most famous love locks locations of the world, the Locks of Love at the imposing N Seoul Tower is a place every lover must visit. Nearly 100,00 padlocks hang from the branches of the artificial trees placed on the building rooftop. The trees are designed to sustain immense weights, particularly of the steel padlocks whose numbers keep increasing every day. The tower officials have also placed a bin to dump the keys and ensure these are not thrown off the building.
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.
The Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty are composed of 40 tombs spread across 18 different location in South Korea. The tombs were constructed between 1408 and 1966, spanning nearly the entire breadth of the Joseon's illustrious reign. The tombs serve as monuments to kings, queens, princes and their wives, as well as those were were posthumously granted royal titles. The tombs are characterized by burial mounds, sculptures and shrines that together paint a vivid picture of the funerary traditions upheld by the royal Joseon family. The tombs are an austere sight, set amid lush, green lawns and splendid architectural embellishments. These scattered tombs are collectively inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites as the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.