On my final day in Seoul I visited Changdeokgung Palace up in the northern part of the city. Changdeokgung is located east of Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Bukchon Hanok Village, though it doesn’t get as many visitors as Gyeongbokgung.
Changdeokgung (which literally translates to “Prospering Virtue Palace”) is one of the five great palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty and it was completed in 1412. While kings would rule from Gyeongbokgung, princes and other members of the royal family would frequently reside at Changdeokgung, making it the second most important palace in Seoul. Changdeokgung has burned to the ground twice and suffered a couple other partial destructions over the centuries and it was also home to Korea’s last monarch, who died here in 1926.
Probably the most prominent building on the palace tour route is Injeongjeon Hall. It was here that new kings would be coronated and if the king was staying at Changdeokgung this would be where he’d handle his government duties and greet foreign envoys. Injeongjeon has been burned down twice and the current version is from 1804.
From the courtyard of Injeongjeon you can also see Seoul Tower in the distance. Though in many parts of the city you can’t see Seoul Tower because of all the tall buildings, in the area around Changdeokgung it’s clearly visible.
For much of the rest of my tour I was wandering around and checking out all the residences of the royal family. One of the nice things about Changdeokgung is that there’s a fair amount of English signage, more so than at Gyeongbokgung, so English speakers like me will have a good idea of what we’re looking at when exploring the palace. Another nice thing is that because Changdeokgung doesn’t get as many visitors as Gyeongbokgung you can visit the palace without having to worry too much about crowds.
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