The Most Beautiful of the Royal Palaces

Changdeokgung Palace

창덕궁

Changdeokgung Palace, which means “the Palace of Prospering Virtue”, is widely regarded as the most beautiful of the five Joseon palaces. It was built in 1404 and served for 270 years as the royal residence. The harmonious balance between its architecture and surrounding nature, its living quarters, and pensive gardens earned it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main attractions are concentrated around the so-called Secret Garden (Huwon) – the main forest-like garden of the palace, which is the perfect place for a relaxing walk in the center of the bustling city.

 

Though the first official palace of Hanyang (modern-day Seoul) was Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung Palace was chosen as the place of residence by the great King Taejo in 1405. Since then the palace served as a royal residence for the king and his family from the early Joseon era to the late 20th century – it was customary to rotate the residence once in a while, and Changdeokgung was the perfect place to live in. Over its long history, the spacious palace continued to grow, with new buildings and grounds constantly added over the centuries.

 

Unlike the more official Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung does not follow the strict “central axis” structure but is rather organized freely around the hilly terrain. This special feature makes the palace a unique example of palatial architecture: closely following the rules of feng shui, the layout takes into consideration the location of Jongmyo Shrine, ponds, hills, and gardens surrounding the palace. This was a very bold design, created by the famous architect Park Ja-Cheong, who created many masterpieces under great kings Taejong and Sejong. Disobeying direct orders from the king, the architect built the main square in a rare trapezoid form to incorporate the mountain in the background. Facing Taejong’s wrath, he continued to stand his ground and was finally pardoned and continued working for the royal family until his death.

 

The palace was the longest-serving royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty, and the center of its politics, culture, and economy. Even after being destroyed by a great fire, it did not lose its magnificence. Changdeokgung witnessed the last days of the Joseon Dynasty, when the son of the last king of Korea, Sunjong, relocated to the palace after being nominally appointed as king by the Japanese. During the Japanese occupation, many parts of the palatial complex, including the Secret Garden, became open to the public. In 1947 the battered but mostly intact Changdeokgung palace was taken under protection by the US army. Till the very end, it served as the royal residence of the last members of the Joseon dynasty: Empress Sunjeong died here in 1966, Princess Dokhye in 1989 and the last heir of Prince Yongchin – Yi Gu – passed away in 2005. 

 

The Palace is divided into two zones: General Visitor Zone and Secret Garden Zone with limited access. Visits to the Secret Garden are limited to 100 people per time slot, with 50 tickets being available for online reservation and 50 on site.
 

Information

Company NameChangdeokgung Palace (창덕궁)
Category Family & Living Outdoors & Adventure Tour & Sightseeing
Phone+82-2-3668-2300
URLs Homepage
Languages Available English Japanese Chinese
Opening HoursFeb-May: 09:00 - 18:00 / June-Aug: 09:00 - 18:30 / Sept-Oct: 09:00 - 18:00 / Nov-Jan: 09:00 - 17:30

*Last admission 1 hour before closing
Closed DaysMondays

Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea 99 Yulgok-ro

Take Line 3 to Anguk Station and go out Exit 3 >> Walk straight for 230 meters >> The palace entrance will be on the right

Take Lines 1, 3, or 5 to Jongno 3-ga Station and go out either Exit 6 or 7 >> Walk straight about 300 meters up the street towards the palace >> Cross the road to the entrance

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