Across the street from Jeondong Cathedral is Gyeonggijeon Shrine, Jeonju’s most important historic site. The shrine honors King Taejo, the founder of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty and it was first built in 1410. In 1614 Gyeonggijeon was remodeled to its current version after the shrine was partially destroyed by the Japanese invasion of Korea in the late 1500s.
In the heart of Gyeonggijeon Shrine is a building that houses a famous portrait of King Taejo. In the portrait he is sitting on his throne and wearing a distinctive blue rope with a golden dragon across the front.
The tour route then led through a garden area. Similar to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, you’ll see a lot of people dressed in traditional Korean attire at Gyeonggijeon Shrine.
An elevated building holds a small library where the official historical archives of the Joseon Dynasty were housed. Apparently the books that were stored here are an important source of information about the history of Korea from the 1400s to the end of the 1800s.
Near the library there’s a small bamboo grove and more garden areas that lead around the rear of the shrine. The bamboo grove is a popular photo spot and if you visit Gyeonggijeon you’ll likely see a line of visitors waiting their turn to be photographed in it.
Around the back of Gyeonggijeon Shrine is the Royal Portrait Museum. Entry to the museum is covered as part of your ticket for the shrine and inside it are portraits of many of the Joseon kings and various historical artifacts. There are also an additional two portraits of King Taejo on display. The one on the left with Taejo wearing a blue robe is from when he was younger and the one on the right with Taejo wearing a red robe is from when he was older. Red was meant to be symbolic of the fact that Taejo was in his sunset years when the portrait was made.
Once I was done at the Royal Portrait Museum I wandered around and saw some of Gyeonggijeon Shrine’s smaller buildings before leaving to continue my sightseeing in Jeonju.