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Best Historic Locations in Seoul

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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.

Originally named Sugang-gung, this impressive palace was constructed in 1419 by King Sejong and is one of the oldest of all existing royal palaces in South Korea. It was built in memory of King Sejong's father, Taejong. Under Japanese colonial rule, the ornate palace and its grounds served as a zoo. It was not until 1911 that the name was changed to Changyong Palace. In 1986, the building was restored to its original glory and opened to the public as a historical monument.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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