Past and present were separated by a single road in Seoul. Sky scrapers bow in front of the main gate of the Gyeongbokgung Palace. The sun reflecting off long glass panes making the grounds of the royal palace bright and vibrant.
Seoul like Tokyo was a city with their eyes looking forward into the future but their hearts rooted deeply in the past.
Gyeongbokgung was build in 1395 and was the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty. The pillars above line the inner wall of the first gate that you walk through. This palace is the biggest and most visited of the 5 royal palaces that you can explore in Seoul.
By far my favorite part of this palace was the colorful pillars and ceiling inside of the first gate.
I really enjoyed the artifacts like the large drum in the middle. The entire complex was a lot larger then I had anticipated. I had to rush through the back part of the grounds because I had tickets for the Secret Garden tour in Changdeokgung at 2:45.
While all the tourists might be grouped in the middle courtyard taking pictures make sure you go around and explore more and get some pictures that other people don't have.
The detail work on these buildings is so astounding. I can only imagine what they looked like when first built. Much of what exists was rebuilt after Japanese Imperialism, in 1592, destroyed much of the grounds.
The photo below is from the secret garden tour in Changdeokgung built in 1405. Thankfully the two palaces are only a 15 minute walk between them which makes it a perfect way to spend half your day in Seoul. While Gyeonbokgung was favored by the kings the neighboring Changdeokgung Palace was the place where the prince's preferred to spend their time.
More than 2/3rds of the palace is actually a garden that can only be viewed through a group tour. Despite my aversion towards tours I have to say it was a great deal since it came in a museum pass.
There was a similar color scheme that I noticed between the two palaces. Lots of green with spots of bright yellow, red, and blue. Color was expensive and so the extensive use of color in these buildings was supposed to reify the power and strength of the monarchy. The middle photo is of an inscription that prays for long life and is on the top of a doorway that leads into a quiet shaded area with a beautiful pond.
The Garden Tour gives you an intimate look at what life might have been like hundreds of years ago. From quiet reading nooks by a lake to an area where the princes used to play royal drinking games.
If you are at all interested in history and architecture then this is definitely not something that should be missed. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss another addition to the archive.