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Must Visit Attractions in Seoul

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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.

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.

The Hwaseong Fortress is one of the magnificent wonders of South Korea. It was constructed towards the end of the 18th Century by the then king of the Joseon Dynasty, King Yeongjo. Initially constructed as a memorial to his father, the fortress today is one of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. Designed scientifically, the fortress consists of four gates that are interestingly constructed facing each of the four directions. Of them all, the Northern gate is a landmark in itself as it is the largest gate in all of Korea. Multiple secret gateways - to assist the army to carry out stealth operations, crenels and arrowslits built to withstand battle are signs of the formidable architecture of Hwaseong Fortress. The fortress is the center-point for the Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival celebrated annually.

Located in the heart of Seoul city, the Lotte World Tower stands at a height of 555.7 meters (1823.16 feet). The super-tall skyscraper was opened to the public on April 3, 2017 and is one of the tallest building in South Korea and the world. The tower is home to several stores, cafes, restaurants, galleries, an aquarium and even a concert hall. In addition they have a theme park that contains an ice rink and folk museum. On the top floors of the tower they have an observation deck, a sky-walk, and a luxury hotel. The tower is very popular with locals and tourists who spend the entire day exploring and enjoying a plethora of activities under one roof.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Encased in glass and glazed with gold, 63 Square or 63 Building as it is also known is a shimmering beauty that makes a prominent appearance on the city's skyline. Overlooking the Hangang River, this landmark skyscraper holds its own as its glistening form soars above the rest of the city, measuring in at a height of 249 meters (817 feet). Having opened in 1985, the building was intended as a landmark for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and is regarded today as one of the most emblematic buildings in Seoul. It is home to the popular 63 Seaworld, 63 Sky Art Gallery and 63 Wax Museum, but is most well known for its Love Elevators; these elevators offer a brief romantic escape to couples by taking them on a minute-long ride through the building.

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