Discovering the posh palaces of Seoul


photo by CC user aperezdc on Flickr

With the young K-pop stars capturing the attention of the world of the past few years, people have started to shift their sights from other Asian destinations to this tiny but fascinating country. In addition to its musical talent, the cuisine of the nation has begun to win over many adherents for its diversity of taste and texture experiences, as well as its healthy nature compared to other diets in other parts of the world.

All of this has generated a great deal of interest in South Korea, and the tourist arrivals have reflected this trend over the past half decade. While this nation’s break-neck pace of progress, its modernity, and its food are driving visits, Korea also has its fair share of historical attractions that are well worth exploring.

Located within Seoul city limits are a number of palaces built within the past 1000 years that housed members of the Joseon dynasty, ruling over their subjects in the Hermit Kingdom. If you are pressed for time, the following palaces of Seoul will give you the optimal cultural experience that are you are seeking out of your trip here.


Being the largest of the palaces built during the Joseon dynasty, Gyeongbok-gung served as the center of Korean government until the invading Japanese burned it in the late 16th century. Rebuilt after this attack and another raid in 1910, this palace is still being restored to its former glory, but large parts are back to the way they were during their heyday.

On the grounds of this former royal residence are two museums, the National Palace Museum and the Korean Folk Museum, both of which are essential for any visitor seeking to understand the cultural background of those that call this country home in the present day.


Also serving as a seat of government after the destruction of the former palace, Changdeok-gung is another temple that you can’t afford to miss as a cultural aficionado. One of the greatest highlights of this historical attraction is the Huwon, or “secret garden”, which is a rare piece of greenery in the midst of uber-urban Seoul that sprawls over 78 acres behind the palace.


Serving formerly as the summer palace for the monarchs that ruled during the Koryo dynasty, this historical point of interest holds more than 900 years of heritage within its gates. While this palace has its fair share of gates, pagodas, and other aspects of structural interest, Changyeong-gung is best known for its close proximity to the Jongmyo shrine, when many royal family members during the Joseon dynasty conducted holy rites.


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