Of the five royal palaces located in the heart of Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first palace to be constructed (est. 1395). It is known for its scale and architectural beauty, particularly the symmetric central part connecting the gates of Gwanghwamun, Heungnyemun, and Geunjeongmun. In part because of its expansive grounds, Gyeongbokgung Palace is said to be the ideal place for visitors to bask in the elegant grace and luxurious essence of the royal palace culture.
☞ Go to Gyeongbokbung Palace
Bukchon Hanok Village
This traditional residential area of Seoul dates back at least 600 years and stands in stark contrast to the modern buildings that now pervade the city. The Bukchon Hanok Village was once the home of the upper-class families of the Joseon Era and still contains many tile-roofed hanok homes and old streets. It is conveniently located between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces and the Jongmyo Shrine.
What does Michelin say?
Bukchon is reminiscent of the Right Bank of Paris where residences of the noblemen and the bourgeoisie have lived since the Middle Ages.
☞ Go to Bukchon Hanok Village
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Take a walk down ‘Seoul-gil,’ pathways full of living, breathing history! - Bukchon Hanok-gil
Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon (Secret Garden) [UNESCO World Heritage Site]
Changdeokgung Palace is neither showy nor grandiose, but rather embodies a simple and peaceful style that is most representative of Korean palace architecture. UNESCO explains its selection of the palace as a World Heritage Site by saying that the palace is ‘an exceptional example of Far Eastern palace architecture and design, blending harmoniously with the surrounding landscape.'
At the back of the palace is the famed Secret Garden, which contains trees, hills, valleys, a pond with a small island, and a pavilion. Once used as a walking area for the royals, the Secret Garden reflects the true beauty and merit of Changdeokgung Palace.
☞ Go to Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon
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Cultural Heritage Sites > Changdeokgung Palace
National Museum of Korea
The National Museum of Korea is a cultural space dedicated to exhibition and research, education and international cultural exchange, and the collection and preservation of Korea's unique cultural heritage. Eye-catching both inside and out, the museum features six permanent exhibition galleries, special exhibition galleries, a children’s museum, and an outdoor gallery showcasing Korean fine art and Asian cultural assets.
☞ Go to National Museum of Korea
Hwaseong Fortress [UNESCO World Heritage Site]
The ‘Hwaseong Fortress’ refers both to the temporary palace built in Suwon as well as the fortress wall that surrounds it. Said to reflect the period’s cutting-edge theories and technologies (Joseon Era, 1794-1796), the fortress was constructed based on systemic designs that were very labor and time intensive. The advanced technology used during the fortress’s construction lead to it being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is often hailed as the first example of urban development in Korea. Though the fortress was severely damaged during the Japanese colonial rule and the Korean War, it was carefully restored in the 1970s based on the Hwaseongseongyeoguigwe, a document that contains detailed descriptions and drawings of every aspect of the fortress construction including the overall design, part measurements and characteristics, and material specifications.
☞ Go to Hwaseong Fortress
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Cultural Heritage Sites > The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress