There are ‘five grand palaces’ in Seoul; Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Deoksung, Changgyeonggung, and Gyeonghuigung. They were all built during the time of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392 – 1910 CE. Although they each have a lot of similarities of style, there are arguments for visiting all five.
Gyeonghuigung has a few things going for it. For example it is the least visited by tourists so you can get beautiful photographs without all the people. It is right next to the Seoul Museum of History, and the Seoul Museum of Art so you can see multiple things without having to walk very far. And it is free to get in.
Built for king Gwanghae in 1616, as a secondary palace it, at one time, had about one hundred buildings within its walls. In fact it took up so much land that it was once connected to Deoksugung Palace by an arched bridge. Ten kings used it at times over the centuries even though it wasn’t the main palace. Unfortunately Gyeonghui has seen some hard times over the years and what you can see now is only a remnant of what it once was.
It was burned by accidental fires in the 19th century and much of it was torn down by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea in the 20th. The Japanese relocated a couple of the buildings to other parts of Seoul, but most everything was leveled or removed to make way for a Japanese Middle School.
By 1988 there wasn’t very much left except for foundations. In the 1990’s the Korea Government began rebuilding it as it once was. Using the original techniques the restoration continues to this day. About 33% has been rebuilt, but they will never be able to rebuild all of it because some of the original land has been lost to modern development. Plus they don’t know what all the lost buildings looked like, since only foundations were left. Still they have done at amazing job and it is well worth a visit.
Entry to the other four ‘grand palaces’ is only a very nominal fee, and if you get the pass it is even cheaper. About $14.00 US without the pass, v $10.00 US with the pass. The passes can be bought at any of the other palaces + Jongmyo Shrine. Also if you are wearing a hanbok you can get into the palaces for free. (True when I wrote this but check before you go.)
Have a great day everyone.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth and Debora Marzec.