There are five grand palaces in Seoul. If you visit South Korea, try to visit at least one. More than two and the buildings may become repetitive and frankly a little boring. I had an afternoon free, so I decided to give Changdeokgung Palace a go.
I visited the palace during the week and it was pretty empty, a vast contrast to Gyeongbokgung Palace, which I visited during a holiday weekend. Because of that, I was able to get great pictures with almost no one in sight and move from building to building without having to navigate through the crowds.
As a treat, I spent some alone time in the beautiful courtyards and watched as girls pranced about in their beautiful colorful hanboks.
You may notice from the pictures below that the architecture and colors used in Korean buildings are very different from that of Japanese temples even after two periods of colonization. The colors used in palace buildings can only be used in religious, governmental and imperial buildings. This rule extends until today. That is why no other buildings like houses or businesses will bear these colors. Interesting, isn’t it?
A Brief History of Changdeokgung Palace
Much like Gyeongbokgung Palace was built during the Joseon Dynasty. It was plagued by fires and the Japanese invasion which destroyed most of the palace in 1592. Its history also contains a lot of infighting between princes and an attack by the Manchu Chinese. However unlike Gyeongbokgung Palace only 30% of the original buildings of Changdeokgung Palace were rebuilt and still remain.
Changdeokgung Palace was the home of several regents and the royal court. In fact, the last Emperor of Korea, Sunjong, lived in the palace until 1926.
The palace was designated a Unesco Heritage Site in 1997.
For more information on Changdeokgung Palace click here.