Sunday, November 11, 2007

10/29 Gyeongbok Palace

Though I had toured the palaces on my first trip to Seoul in 1995, I visited Gyeongbokgoong since Monday was a nice day. I arrived just in time for the changing of the guards ceremony which was a great photo opportunity.

A brief history: Gyeongbok Palace was completed in 1395 and was the main and largest palace of the Joseon Dynasty. After being destroyed during the Japanese invasion of 1592-1598, it was reconstructed as a massive 330-building complex in the 1860s and became home to the Korean royal family. All but 10 buildings were destroyed in 1911 during the Japanese occupation.

The main buildings on the palace grounds are Geunjeongjeon (the imperial throne room) and Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, which stands on 48 granite pillars on an artificial lotus lake. With two mountains near the original palace grounds, Gyeongbokgoong is surrounded by great natural beauty.

Seoul has over 10 million people living in an area of 605 sq km (smaller than New York or Tokyo), making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world. When stuck in a crowd, it can feel like you're being carried by a wave of people. While Gyeongbok Palace is a national treasure and symbol of Korea's royal history, it also serves as a quiet place for contemplation in a city moving at hyper speed.

Photos can be found here.

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