Old and new at the Palace of illustrious virtue

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In the gardens of Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, April 2018

Traditional Korean costume, hanbok, is popular with visitors to many of South Korea’s traditional sites. There are rental studios nearby, and I have to say I appreciated the addition of extra colour and tradition to my wanderings around the palaces and old villages.

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Changdeokgung Palace, the palace of illustrious virtue, is considered by many to be the most beautiful of Seoul’s palaces. Construction started in 1405 during the reign of King Taejong and was completed in 1412. It was built as a secondary palace, but Gyeongbokgung (Seoul’s principal palace) was destroyed during the Japanese invasion in the 1590s, and Changdeokgung was promoted to primary royal residence until 1872. Furthermore, Sunjong, the second and last emperor of Korea, who reigned from 1907 to 1910, lived here until his death in 1926.

Many of the pavilions and buildings in the complex were destroyed by fire in 1592 during the Japanese invasion of Korea. Restoration work began in 1623 during the first year of the reign of King Injo and the work continued through the centuries. The resulting buildings and grounds became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

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Feng shui played its part in the planning of the palace and its grounds, and as with all Joseon palaces, it has a mountain behind it and a small stream in front. At the back is a Secret Garden, spread over 78 acres. This beautiful and peaceful setting was the site of recreation for the royals.

Tickets are required for visits to the garden, and it is best to book in advance to choose a tour time and language that suits you. Although entering as part of a guided tour may not be the most peaceful way to wander the gardens, you are allowed to wander free once inside.

 


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Copyright Debbie Smyth, 10 September 2018
Posted as part of #InThePink

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