On our second day in Seoul, we went to Changdeokgung Palace but the morning tour is already closed. So hubby and I went back to Insadong to eat lunch and went after to the Festival. We went back to this place around 1:30 PM and we found out that they already change the policy you can now enter the Palace without going with the tour except for the Secret Garden.
Changdeokgung, also known as Changdeokgung Palace or Changdeok Palace, is set within a large park in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It is one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. Because of its location east of Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeokgung, with Changgyeonggung, is also referred to as the East Palace(東闕, Donggwol). The literal meaning of Changdeokgung(昌德宮) is “Palace of Prospering Virtue”.
Changdeokgung was the most favored palace of many princes of the Joseon Dynasty and retained many elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period that were not incorporated in the more contemporary Gyeongbokgung. One such element is the fact that the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the topography of the site instead of imposing upon nature.
Changdeokgung, like the other Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, was heavily destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Currently, only 30% of the Palace structures remain.
Changdeokgung was the second palace after Gyeongbokgung which had been established in 1395 as a primary palace. In the midst of strife for the throne between princes and vassals, authority of Gyeongbokgung was deteriorated. King Jeongjong enthroned by Prince Yi Bang-won moved the capital to Gaegyeong, the one of Goryeo dynasty, again in 1400 on the pretext of superior geographical features of it, in fact, in order to avert the power struggle. Taejong(Yi bang-won) soon taking over the throne returned to Hanseong(present-day Seoul) had a new palace named Changdeokgung instead of Gyeongbokgung because he had killed his half brothers in Gyeongbokgung whose construction was led by Jeong Do-jeon, the king’s rival before. Construction of Changdeok Palace began in 1405, and was completed in 1412. King Seonjo expanded the palace grounds by about 500,000 square meters, including Huwon (see below).
The Palace was burnt to the ground during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and reconstructed in 1609 by King Seonjo and King Gwanghaegun. The next arson was in 1623 because of King Injo Political Revolt against Gwanghaegun. The palace was also attacked by the Manchu Qing but throughout its history of reconstruction and repair has remained faithful to its original design. Changdeokgung was the site of the royal court and the seat of government until 1872, when the neighboring Gyeongbokgung was rebuilt. Korea’s last Emperor, Emperor Sunjong lived here until his death in 1926.
Today there are 13 buildings remaining on the palace grounds and 28 pavilions in the gardens, occupying 110 acres (45 hectares) in all and the area is designated as Historical Site No. 122. Buildings of note include Donhwa-mun (built in 1412, rebuilt in 1607, with a copper bell weighing 9 short tons or 8 metric tons), Injeong-jeon (main hall), Seongjeong-jeon (auxiliary office in the main hall), Huijeong-dang (the king’s private residence, later used as a conference hall), Daejo-jeon (living quarters), and Nakseon-jae (former residence of Korean imperial family including Princess Bangja.
Changdeokgung was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. The UNESCO committee inscribing the site stated the place was an “outstanding example of Far Eastern palace architecture and garden design” being exceptional because the buildings are “integrated into and harmonized with the natural setting” and adapted “to the topography and retaining indigenous tree cover.”
Portions of the palace were used to film the hugely popular Korean Drama Dae Jang Geum in the 2000s