A moonlit stroll around the palace grounds
Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace
When visiting Seoul, one thing that’s not to be missed is a walk around one of the city’s ancient palaces (Gyeongbokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon). These architectural gems were not only residences of kings and queens, but were also the center of politics and city life during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
Changdeokgung Palace, in particular, is the perfect destination for those interested in the palaces. Designated as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1997, Changdeokgung Palace is said to be the most traditional and authentic of Seoul’s five palaces. It has been praised for its architectural sensitivity to its natural surroundings and lauded as a representative masterpiece of East Asian Palace Architecture. The palace is also believed to have the perfect geographical location according to ancient philosophies, similar to that of Feng Shui.
As amazing as the palace is in daylight, it’s even more magical when you stroll the grounds under the light of the full moon. In the past, the moon held great significance for Koreans. Most people believed that the moon had special powers; they even performed a ceremony, praying to the spirits of the moon to grant them their deepest desires. Jeongwol Daeboreum (January 15th on the lunar calendar) and Chuseok (August 15th on the lunar calendar) are full moon days and still days when people make wishes to the moon and preserve the customs of their forefathers.
Join in this time-honored practice by making your own wish during your Changdeokgung Palace Moonlight Journey! The Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace is the only chance you can walk around in the palace at night. The tour takes place on the two days around the full moon period during April to May and September to November. Since each tour is limited to 100 people only, you will want to reserve your spot right away, because they fill up really fast.
* Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour Route
① Donhwamun (Main Gate) →
② Geumcheongyo Bridge →
③ Injeongjeon Hall → ④ Nakseonjae →
⑤ Hamyangmun Gate → ⑥ Buyongji Pond →
⑦ Bullomun Gate → ⑧ Yeongyeongdang Hall → Forest trail of Huwon
Tidbits to make your Changdeokgung Palace Moonlight Journey even more enjoyable!
1. Donhwamun Gate (돈화문): The oldest palace front gate
Donhwamun Gate is the oldest of Changdeokgung Palace's gates. First built in 1412, it was burnt down during a period of conflict and restored in 1608. The gate is two stories high. Its name (Donhwa) means 'benevolently teaching and loving the citizens.'
This is the landmark from which your Moonlight Tour officially begins with a cheongsachorong (candle lantern from the Joseon Dynasty made with red and blue silk cloth) in your hand.
2. Injeongjeon Hall (인정전): The venue for royal ceremonies
Injeongjeon Hall, located at the center of the palace, has been used as a reception room for foreign diplomats and was also the place of the King's coronation. Looking inside this prestigious room, visitors will be able to see the King's throne and behind it is a folding screen called 'Ilwoloakdo,' which is embroidered with the sun, moon, and five mountain peaks. Looking around this historic building, one can see Seoul's modern cityscape looming in the background.
3. Buyongji (부용지): The beautiful royal backyard
Buyongji is the most beautiful and tranquil place inside Changdeokgung Palace and is one of the finest examples of landscapes designed during the Joseon era. The kings would take leisurely walks around the small pond located in the backyard of the palace called Buyongji. The striking building jutting out over the pond is the Buyongjeong Pavilion. The area is surrounded by trees that are hundreds of years old. Next to the pond is Yeonghwadang, the venue for gwageo exams (the highest-level state examination to recruit ranking officials) during the Joseon Dynasty.
4. Nakseonjae (낙선재): The king's compound
Nakseonjae was built as the study and sarangchae (living quarters of the head of a household) of King Heonjong (24th king of Joseon, 1827-1849). Literally meaning 'to enjoy virtue,' Nakseonjae implies that the king should serve his people with virtue so that the people are happy and the king himself is happy. After King Heonjong passed away, the compound was used by King Gojong (26th king of Joseon, 1852-1919) and King Sunjong (27th king of Joseon, 1874-1926) to carry out state affairs.
5. Yeongyeongdang (연경당): The best stage built for the king
Yeongyeongdang is a wooden building built in the same style as the houses of the noblemen during the Joseon Dynasty. The building was built in the 19th century and has since been used as a venue for ceremonies and performances by the best performers in that era. During your moonlit journey, Yeongyeongdang serves as the venue for an array of Korean traditional performances including pansori (traditional Korean opera), a style of music that has been honored by UNESCO as an official 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.' The wide yard of the building and temporary stage are complete with plenty of seating for the audience. Korean tea and traditional snacks will be served as well.
6. Huwon Forest Stroll: Enjoying the night scene of Seoul's past and the present
After the performance, visitors will be led into the forest of Changdeokgung Palace, which for centuries was off-limits to the common people and reserved exclusively for the use of the royal family. Now open to the public, guides in traditional hanbok will lead the way through the trees by the light of cheongsachorong. Guided by the delicate glow of the cheongsachorong lantern and the gentle light of the full moon, you're virtually guaranteed one extraordinary and memorable evening.
☞ Place:Changdeokgung and Huwon
||12, 13 at 20:00
||Ticket selling starts March 18, 2014
||14, 15 at 20:00
||10, 11 at 20:00
||5 at 20:00
||Tickets selling starts early August
||7, 8 at 19:00
||5 at 19:00
☞ Number of people per tour: 100 people (subject to change.)
☞ Program: Changdeokgung Palace night stroll, Korean traditional performance and Korean teas and snacks
☞ Price: 30,000 won
☞ Reservation (English)
☞ Homepage: http://www.cdg.go.kr (Korean, English)
☞ Inquiries: 82-2-2270-1233 (Korean, English)
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Photo courtesy of Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation
(Yeongyeongdang photo by KTO)
Last updated, March 19, 2014