Gyeongbokgung was the main palace during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). It is one of the five palaces in Seoul and boasts 600 years of history. It was built in 1395 by the monarch who founded the Joseon dynasty, Lee Seong-Gye, when he moved the seat of the Goryeo-era capital to Seoul. Being located in the northern part of Seoul, it used to be also called as “North Palace”.
Gyeongbokgung Palace has a surface area of 501,676 m2, arranged in a rectangle shape. On the south side is the main entrance, Gwanghwamun. To the north, Sinmumun; to the east, Yeongchumun; and to the west, Geonchunmun. Inside the palace are pavilions such as Geunjeongjeon, Gyotaejeon, Jagyeongjeon, Gyeonghoeru, and Hyangwonjeong.
Geunjeongjeon, the main hall, was the place where official ceremonies were held and officials gave morning reports to the king. In front of the internal patio, three granite paths are laid out. The one in the middle, slightly higher, was the path where the monarch walked and those on the sides were for his Court. In the courtyard stand on each side the “pumgyeseok” (stone stelae with the positions of public officials).
Jagyeongjeon and Gyotaejeon were the residences of the mother of the king and queen, respectively. Jagyeongjeon is famous for its flower wall and its “sipjangsaeng-gulttuk” (bas-relief of the fireplace). The “gulttuk” is recognized as one of the most beautiful chimneys built during the Joseon period and is on the National Treasures list at # 810.
Gyotaejeon used to be the queen’s chambers, and the wall and rear entrance, which overlook Mount Amisan, are particularly attractive to look at. Besides this, what further accentuates the elegance of Gyeongbokgung Palace are its lotus flower ponds, Gyeonghoeru and Hyangwonjeoung.
Gyeonghoeru was the place where foreign dignitaries met and where special festivals were held when good events occurred in the nation.
Hyangwonjeong is a space within the backyard, which is behind the rooms. Like Gyeonghoeru, it has a pond of lotus flowers, but unlike Gyeonghoeru, it has distinctively feminine characteristics. Its architecture makes good use of the geography around Mount Amisan and the entire area blends into great beauty, a perfect example of the traditional structure of Korean palaces.
Also within Gyeongbokgung there is a library, Sujeongjeon, where officials had long hours of reading, and Sajeongjeon, the king’s work office. In addition, there are numerous historical relics designated as cultural heritages. Many of them were brought in from all over the nation, including the 10-story stone tower of the Gyeongcheonsa Temple (No. 86), the Jigwangguksa-Hyeonmo Tower of the Beomcheonsa Temple (No. 101), the Borugak Cheonsang Clock and Heumgyeonggak Water Clock, among others.
In 1910, when the Treaty of Korea and Japan was signed, the Japanese tore down all the flags in the southern area and erected their command center there. The Japanese building was dismantled and the palace is still undergoing restoration.
Source: English Visit korea
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