Take a break from your daily life to enjoy the virtual tour with 360-degrees panoramic views of what Seoul can offers from historical site, greenery garden to stunning panoramic views of Seoul city.
Changdeokgung Palace was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and is regarded as a finest masterpiece of Korean palace architecture in East Asia where the buildings are integrated into harmony with natural setting. The palace has also become an invaluable historical site in the study of the history and culture of the Joseon Dynasty.
One of the five royal palaces of Seoul, Changdeokgung Palace was built as a secondary palace of the Joseon Dynasty in 1405 King Taejong, the third ruler of Joseon. During the Japanese invasion in 1592, all palaces in Seoul were burnt down and Changdeokgung Palace became the first palace to be rebuilt in 1610. Since then, it became the primary palace for about 270 years where 13 kings including the last monarch dealt with state affairs, until Gyeongbokgung was finally rebuilt in 1868.
While the major buildings of Gyeongbokgung are strictly arranged on a north-south axis, the buildings and pavilions of Changdeokgung were constructed at the foothills of Mount Baegaksan, positioned more naturally by taking into consideration the geographical features of the land. This created a more tranquil atmosphere, while maintaining the dignity of a royal palace. The whole Changdeokgung compound covers an area of about 462,000sqm (110 acres), and the Huwon, or “Secret Garden” occupies about two thirds of the total grounds, which is the largest garden of all the royal palaces.
Changdeokgung Palace, the palace of harmony and nature, is the most beautiful and well-preserved palace of all the royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1910). During your next visit to Seoul, spend a few hours exploring its unique architecture during daytime and its natural beauty at night with its moonlight tour. With its unique architectural style and garden designs, you can feel the essence of Joseon’s royal gardens, especially the “Secret Garden”, which is only accessible by signing up for a guided tour and this special treat should not be missed!
A Glimpse into the Glorious Days of the Joseon Dynasty:
Donhwamun Area – Main gate of Changdeokgung
Built in 1412 during King Taejong’s reign, Donhwamun has a two-story pavilion-type wooden structure, which is the largest of all palace gates. In front of the gate there once was a broad, raised stone terrace giving the gate an imposing dignity. In 1411, the Geumcheongyo bridge was built over the beautiful and silky stream named Geumcheon, which is the oldest stone bridge remaining in Seoul that leads to Jinseonmun Gate, also defined the distinction between the inside and outside the palace.
Injeongjeon Area – Setting for major ceremonies
Injeongjeon is the throne hall of Changdeokgung, where major state affairs, including the coronation of a new king and reception of foreign envoys were took place here. From the outside, Injeongjeon appears to have two stories, but inside it is a single space with a high, beautifully adorned ceiling. The floor of the hall was originally covered with blocks of baked clay, but today it is covered with wooden floorboards.
Seonjeongjeon Area – The place where the king handled routine state affairs
Seonjeongjeon is the place where the king worked at his convenience to discuss routine state affairs with high ranking officials. A long, narrow colonnaded structure surrounding the hall served as secretarial offices and provided storage. This is the only building in Changdeokgung with a blue-tiled roof. The covered corridor provides the only remaining evidence of Seonjeongjeon Hall’s function as a royal shrine.
Huijeongdang – The King’s bed chamber that became his workplace
The original Huijeongdang depicted on the Map of the East Palace was an elegant building with a raised floor set on stone columns, and a pond in the courtyard. The reconstructed Huijeongdang is entirely different from the original, where its interior is outfitted with western features such as wooden floorboards and carpets, glass windows and chandeliers.
Daejojeon Area – Scene of tragic history
The residence of the queen, Daejojeon was originally surrounded by many secondary buildings, including Heungbokheon, which was witness to a tragic moment in history. Secondary buildings on either side of Daejojeon, and Gyeonghungak behind it, are connected by long colonnaded corridors., which are perhaps the only sections to show the original, complex structure of the palace. The last king’s and queen’s bed chambers are still remaining in this Daejojeon building.
Seongjeonggak Area – The eastern part of the place, where we can glimpse into the daily life of the crown prince
On the wide road leading to the Secret Garden, between Seongjeonggak and Nakseonjae, used to stand Junghuidang, which was the crown prince’s residence and was once home to many buildings. The original Junghuidang was removed in 1891, and the buildings that remain today are Samsamwa, a hexagonal pavilion; Chilbunseo; and Seunghwaru. All three were once connected by corridors and used as a library and for storing books.
Gwolnaegaksa – The site for government offices
Some offices were built on the palace grounds and were collectively known as Gwolnaegaksa. In an area west of Injeongjeon, Naeuiwon (Royal infirmary), Hongmungwan (Office of Special Advisers), and Geomseocheong (Publication Office) were located to the east of Geumcheon Stream, and Gyujanggak (Royal Library) and Bongmodang (Hall of Upholding the Policies of Former Kings) were to the west.
Old Seonwonjeon –The place where royal ancestral rites were performed
Seonwonjeon refers to the royal shrine where portraits of former kings were enshrined and ancestral rites were performed. In 1921, during the Japanese occupation, a new royal shrine named Seonwonjeon was built deep in the garden of Changdeokgung, and all ancestral rites were subsequently performed there. To the right and left of Seonwonjeon, a number of buildings for ritual ceremonies were built.
Nakseonjae Complex – The place that evinces the simple tastes of King Heonjong
From the left, the buildings here are Nakseonjae, Seokbokheon and Sugangjae. In 1847, Nakseonjae was built as the king’s quarters in the reign of King Heonjong, which is a very personal space built so that King Heonjong could relax and read. Nakseonjae was originally enclosed by lines of buildings and courtyard walls, but they were removed during the Japanese occupation. In 1996 this area was restored to its original style.
Secret Garden of Changdeokgung – The forbidden place for the recreational area and retreat for the royal family
The Secret Garden, the secluded rear garden of the palace, was served as a place for composing poetry, a setting for contemplation, a venue for banquets and as an archery range. The royal family enjoyed fishing and boating on the pond and fireworks was sometimes displayed here. The king and queen of the Joseon Dynasty also engaged farming and raised silkworms in this garden.
Now, the Secret Garden is a beautiful landscape garden that consists of pavilions, ponds, bridges and over 56,000 varieties of plants. In the Secret Garden, there are some beautiful ponds like Buyongji, Aeryeonji and Gwallamji. Small yet beautiful Ongnyucheon Stream runs through the northern part of the garden. New Seonwonjeon, set in the deep woods in the western part of the garden, is a sacred place with facilities for ancestral rites.