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.
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.
This impressive gate was originally constructed in 1395 as the main entrance from the majestic Sejong Boulevard into Kyongbuk Palace. The three arched gates and a two-story pavilion are typical of the architectural design and shape of that period. It has been completely reconstructed after years of conflict and falling into disrepair and it is now made of modern materials such as concrete and steel. It presently serves as a secondary entrance to Kwanghwamun Park.
This Korean-style village is nestled at the foot of Pukansan between Gyeongbok Palace and the secret garden. There are over 2,000 buildings of which more than half are Korean-style houses. Most of these structures have antique tiled roofs and stone walls. The village is a fascinating walk down olden times and a much needed escape from the otherwise modern environs of the city. Some of the attractions that are incorporated in the Bukchon Hanok Village include Gahoe Museum, Han Sangsu Embroidery Museum and Rakgojae.
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.
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.
Seoul Station was originally called Gyeongseong Station when it opened in 1899. It took its present name in 1946 and was designated as a historical monument in 1981. As well as railway services, it hosts a shopping arcade, the Railroad Museum and a cultural center. Seoul functions as a hub for the country's fast and reliable rail network that offers an efficient way to see the country. The Metropolitan Subway system is probably the most efficient means of movement in and around Seoul. There are eight subway lines that merge with the national railway lines and each line is colored differently for easy recognition. A surface line of the government-run Korean National Railroad (KNR) merging with these serves Seoulites and visitors most effectively. Trains run at intervals of two-and-a-half to three minutes during the morning and evening rush hours, and at intervals of four to six minutes during the non-rush hours. Tickets cost around KRW600 for Service Area One (yellow color code) and around KRW700 for Service Area Two (orange color code).
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.
Come and experience authentic Korean traditions firsthand. On either side of the Insa-dong street, you will find many antique shops, Korean paper goods shops, picture framing stores, Korean tea houses, Korean restaurants and much more. Enjoy the various events such as traditional performances, traditional fairs, and Korean food festivals.