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.
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.
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.
Colloquially referred to as Mongmyeoksan at one time, Mount Namsan towers over the city at a height of 262 meters (860 feet). During ancient times, it was a shamanistic site and was also home to a Shinto shrine that honored the Japanese goddess Amaterasu. Today, it is a popular destination for several Seoul natives who wish to get away from the city's bustle and find a moment of peace. There are plenty of attractions at the top of the peak, including the famous Namsan Cable Car, the iconic Namsan Seoul Tower and An Jung-geun Memorial Hall; but the peak is most notable for the views it offers across the city's picturesque sweep, from its undulating skyline, to the contours of the mountains that lie beyond.
Located in central Seoul, Namsan Park is a great place to view the entire landscape of the city. The remains of the old city walls and Seoul Tower are two attractions of the park. Seoul Tower has various facilities like an observation deck and game rooms. Springtime is the best time to visit the park, as cherry blossom trees and other flowers are in full bloom. In addition, there is also a botanical garden, a small zoo, and a library at Namsan.
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.
Located at the bottom of the small mountain called Namsan, this once serene and solemn place was built in memory of the people who lost their lives in the Ulmisabyon War. However, the Japanese made it into a park in 1919. Nowdays, especially on weekends, it is full of people enjoying themselves and playing sports on the baseball field, tennis courts, or other sports facilities. It is within easy walking distance of other tourist attractions such as the National Theatre, Changchung Stadium, and the Science Education Center.
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.