Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)

Gyeongbokgung Palace

My first ever travel to South Korea began with my visit to the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the first and largest palace built during the Joseon Dynasty in 1395 in the heart of Seoul. The Palace went through a series of rebuilding and renovation because of the Japanese invasion during 1592 and 1915, making it a very renowned historical landmark of South Korea.

Motifs from the ceiling of the Geunjeongjeon Hall

The intricate architecture of the palace is a uniquely Korean style of architecture that evolved over centuries. Because of Korea’s close relations with China, its style of architecture is largely influenced by Chinese architecture. It was the palace ceilings and roofs that stood out and caught my attention. The colours used in the ceilings and roofs were very bright and vibrant and the main colours that were noticeable were green, blue, red and tints of yellow and white. 

The most awaited event for tourists visiting the palace is the changing of the royal guards at the Gyeongbokgung Palace. In ancient times the royal guards were given the important duty of protecting the palace by guarding the Gwanghwamun Gate, the entrance of the Palace. The age-old splendid and elegant tradition of changing royal guards was first re-enacted in 1996 and since then it has been a must-see tourist attraction. On the way to the palace, were several other buildings and halls that were a sight to behold because of their delicate designs and architecture. Some of these halls are Geunjeongjeon Hall, Sujeongjeon Hall, Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, Jibokjae Hall, Taewonjeon Hall and the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion. 

We mingled with a large number of other tourists from all around the world who also visited the palace that day. We saw people wearing the colourful and vibrant traditional Korean attire called ‘Hanbok’, and clicking pictures of themselves in front of the buildings and the palace. Hanboks come in various shapes and colours. Women’s Hanbok consists of short jackets (jeogori) and full skirts (chima) while men’s Hanbok consists of a jacket and loose fitting pants called baji.

My experience of visiting the palace was a very special one because of its unique traditional architectural styles – styles and designs that I had never seen before.

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