Gyeongbokgung (also known as the Northern Palace) was given its name which means, “The Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven” (“gung” in Korean means palace). Built in 1935, Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁, 景福宮), or Gyeongbok Palace, was the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty and is the largest of the five royal palaces in Seoul, South Korea.
During the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty, the capital of Korea was moved from Gaseong to Seoul (known as Hanyang in this period) upon the palace’s completion. Gyeongbok Palace was then at the heart of Seoul and is the first of the five palaces to have been built in the capital city.
Gyeongbokgung continued to serve as the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty until the grounds were destroyed by fire during Japanese raids in the Imjin War (1592-1598). After Gyeongbokgung burned down, Changdeokgung Palace was rebuilt and would serve as the new main palace.
Gyeongbokgung would remain abandoned for almost three centuries (273 years) before reconstruction of the palace would begin. In 1867, under the orders of the Palace Prince Regent Heungseon, Gyeongbokgung Palace was rebuilt on a grand scale and was considerably expanded.
The palace was then demolished again during Japanese occupation in the early 1900s as Gyeongbokgung was a symbol of Korean national sovereignty. In 1915, more than 90% of the palace buildings were demolished.
Since then, efforts to restore the palace to its former glory have been ongoing since 1990. At the end of 2009, the Gyeongbokgung was estimated to have about 40% of its buildings that were destroyed during Japanese occupation restored.
The Korean Government has set a goal for phase two of the palace’s restoration to be completed by 2030. By the end of 2030, the Korean Government hopes to restore 76% of the original palace structures.
*Free admission: Toddlers (ages 6 and younger), senior citizens (ages 65 and older). Those wearing hanbok and those who visit on the last Wednesday of every month are also granted free admission to the Palace.
*Closed on Tuesdays
There are many things to do at the palace and around it. One thing many people love to do at Gyeongbokgung is renting hanbok and taking pictures along the palace grounds. Near Gyeongbokgung there are many hanbok rental shops with affordable package deals for tourists.
You can rent a hanbok near Gyeongbok Palace for a few hours or up to one day. The price for renting hanbok near the palace ranges from about 15,000 – 35,000 depending on the type of hanbok you are looking for. Some hanbok rental shops will charge you more for a rental depending on the hanbok design and their outfit accessory fee.
When visiting Gyeongbokgung, you should try to visit the palace’s main gate, known as Gwanghwamun (광화문). Gwanghwamun is the largest gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace and is located at the intersection in front of the historical Gwanghwamun Plaza. Gwanghwamun is also where the the opening and closing ceremony of the palace gates take place and the changing of the palace guards.
There are many building inside Gyeongbokgung to visit, but Geunjeongjeon(근정전), the palace’s largest building and throne hall, is a must-see. Geunjeongjeon was the throne room for the kings of the Jeoseon Dynasty and is designated as a Korean national treasure. This room was one of the many buildings destroyed when the palace was burnt down in the 1500s. Geunjeongjeon was rebuilt in 1867 when Gyeongbokgung also began its reconstruction.
Near Gyeongbokgung, you can also take a short walk over to explore the popular palace neighborhoods of Samcheon-dong, Seochon Village (King Sejong Village), and Bukchon Hanok Village.
There are many ways to get to Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul. Gyeongbokgung is located in the palace and historical district of Seoul, and is nearby some of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. To get to Gyeongbok Palace, you can take the Seoul subway line 3 (the orange line) to Gyeongbokgung Station and leave from exit 5. You can also take the Seoul subway line 3 to Anguk Station and leave from exit 1.
There are many buses running through the palace district of Seoul. To get to Gyeongbokgung Palace by bus, you can take any of the bus numbers, 7025, 1020, 109, 171, 172, 601, or 606. You can exit at the Gyeongbokgung Palace bus stop and you will arrive right in front of the palace.
Looking for more information on Seoul’s famous palaces? Check out our article on The 5 Oldest Seoul Palaces You Should Be Visiting!
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