Seoul 2017: Day 4 [Gyeongbokgung Palace]

by Pauline Padalhin April. 18, 2020 260 views

Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)

Also known as the Northern Palace and the Palace of Felicitous Blessing, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of the five palaces in Seoul. It is also the Main Palace of the Joseon Dynasty. Closed on Tuesdays and opens at 9AM.

Entering from one of the side gates into the Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds.  We went here via the subway from our apartment.

Entering from one of the side gates into the Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds. We went here via the subway from our apartment.

We wanted to witness the Gatekeeper Military Training and the Changing of the Royal Guard ceremony so we went here early. As it turned out, marami ring tourists na kapareho sa amin mag-isip so marami pa ding tao nang dumating kami. Xyza and Angel went to buy their Palace Tour Combo tickets (meron na kami ni Claudia from our own tour of Deoksugung Palace several days ago).

One of the greatest takeaway ko on our way papunta dito is that Xyza has criminal tendencies. Something na hindi namin inakala. Gusto niyang tibagin ang tiles sa subway dahil and pretty at gusto niya iuwi. We told her na kung gusto niya, mag-isa siya kasi gusto pa naming bumalik ng South Korea.

Gwanghwamun Gate with its double-roofed pavilion and three arched openings.  This gate is the main gate of the main palace.  Kings of old used the central arch to enter the compound thus the higher ranking guard standing in front of it. The crown prince and officials enter through either sides.

Gwanghwamun Gate with its double-roofed pavilion and three arched openings. This gate is the main gate of the main palace. Kings of old used the central arch to enter the compound thus the higher ranking guard standing in front of it. The crown prince and officials enter through either sides.

Gwanghwamun wooden name plate in Hanja. It is 광화문 in Korean.

Gwanghwamun wooden name plate in Hanja. It is 광화문 in Korean.

Autumn in Seoul is cold but the sun is out shining brightly.

Autumn in Seoul is cold but the sun is out shining brightly.

Ordinary palace guards guarding the smaller arches.  If you have time, do take a picture with them.  They will allow it.  Just don't touch.

Ordinary palace guards guarding the smaller arches. If you have time, do take a picture with them. They will allow it. Just don't touch.

The Head of the Palace Royal Guards guarding in front of the king's arch.

The Head of the Palace Royal Guards guarding in front of the king's arch.

Changing of the Royal Guard ceremony.  We did not expect it to be that short.

Changing of the Royal Guard ceremony. We did not expect it to be that short.

This is our Korean palace tour guide for the day.  She spoke great English and was very enthusiastic. It made us enthusiastic as well and really enjoyed the tour.

This is our Korean palace tour guide for the day. She spoke great English and was very enthusiastic. It made us enthusiastic as well and really enjoyed the tour.

Gyeongbokgung Palace offers a free palace tour in several major languages including English. All tours depart from in front of the information center at Heungnyemun Gate. If you have an hour and a half to spare, it is highly recommended to join the palace tours. Gyeongbokgung is really beautiful but you will be able to appreciate it more if you understand what you are seeing.

Aside from the main gate, Gyeongbokgung has four other gates that represent four directions and seasons.  I don't know which of the four this is but let us assume that it is the Yeongchumun Gate, the West gate, which means autumn

Aside from the main gate, Gyeongbokgung has four other gates that represent four directions and seasons. I don't know which of the four this is but let us assume that it is the Yeongchumun Gate, the West gate, which means autumn

Heungnyemun Gate

Heungnyemun Gate

Geunjeongmun Gate seen from the south of Yeongjegyo Bridge.

Geunjeongmun Gate seen from the south of Yeongjegyo Bridge.

Geunjeongjeon Hall is the Throne Hall, where the king granted audiences to his officials, presided over large official functions and met foreign envoys.

Geunjeongjeon Hall is the Throne Hall, where the king granted audiences to his officials, presided over large official functions and met foreign envoys.

A pair of sculpted seven-clawed dragons on the ceiling of Geunjeongjeon Hall

A pair of sculpted seven-clawed dragons on the ceiling of Geunjeongjeon Hall

Sajeongjeon Hall or Council Hall is where the king routinely discussed national affairs with his court officials. Shown here is the dragon in the clouds painting

Sajeongjeon Hall or Council Hall is where the king routinely discussed national affairs with his court officials. Shown here is the dragon in the clouds painting

The Jagyeongjeon Hall was built for King Gojong's adoptive mother and its walls decorated with flower designs.

The Jagyeongjeon Hall was built for King Gojong's adoptive mother and its walls decorated with flower designs.

One of the chimneys for Jagyeongjeon Hall.  Yes, you've read it right.  This is a chimney.  Our guide played a game with us asking us to spot the chimneys.  Never did we expect that this was it.

One of the chimneys for Jagyeongjeon Hall. Yes, you've read it right. This is a chimney. Our guide played a game with us asking us to spot the chimneys. Never did we expect that this was it.

Spot-the-chimney is a good game to play while touring the palace. There are various designs and some of them are installed directly on the building unlike this. The chimney in the queen dowager's residence is decorated with the ten signs of longevity: sun, mountain, water, stone, cloud, pine, herb of eternal life, turtle, crane, and deer.

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, built on a pond, is where the king threw feasts for foreign envoys or his court officials.  In the spring, one can go inside this pavilion but since we came in autumn,we were only allowed to take pictures of it.

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, built on a pond, is where the king threw feasts for foreign envoys or his court officials. In the spring, one can go inside this pavilion but since we came in autumn,we were only allowed to take pictures of it.

The King's Living Quarters as seen from the pavilion.

The King's Living Quarters as seen from the pavilion.

Up and Around the Palace Grounds

I can't remember what we are discussing here but I'm pretty sure it must be Goblin-related.

I can't remember what we are discussing here but I'm pretty sure it must be Goblin-related.

Attack of the Dalawang Pumupuso. Dito lang natuto nitong heart sign na ito.

Attack of the Dalawang Pumupuso. Dito lang natuto nitong heart sign na ito.

In hanbok.  Entrance fees for the palaces are waived if you are in a Korean traditional dress like above.

In hanbok. Entrance fees for the palaces are waived if you are in a Korean traditional dress like above.

A couple shooting their own drama

A couple shooting their own drama

1987 Babies: Year of the Rabbit. On the grounds of Gyeongbukgong Palace is this park for the different Chinese zodiac animals. All of us in this group was born on the Year of the Fire Rabbit.

1987 Babies: Year of the Rabbit. On the grounds of Gyeongbukgong Palace is this park for the different Chinese zodiac animals. All of us in this group was born on the Year of the Fire Rabbit.

National Palace Museum of Korea

We had some time so we decided to visit the National Palace Museum on our way out. Malapit lang kasi ito sa Gwanghwamun Gate. There is no entrance fee and there is a guided tour in English if makaabot kayo sa schedule niya. You can also rent an audio device for around 1000 won. We did not join the tour kasi hindi naman kami umabot and we did not get the audio device, too. We just sprinted through the museum just to look around.

Royal Procession at Hall 9

Royal Procession at Hall 9

Hemispheric Sundial

Hemispheric Sundial

Au revoir, Gyeongbokgung Palace!

But our day is far from over. There is another palace to visit (for Angel and Xyza) and revisit (for Claudia and I).

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