Changdeokgung (창덕궁) — or Changdeokgung Palace— is one of the five great palaces built by the kings of the Joseon dynasty and is the most well-preserved. It is located in the Jongno-gu area in Seoul and was built by King Taejong (third king of the Joseon dynasty) in 1405. It is also called Dongwol, the Eastern Palace, because it is located to the east of Gyeongbukgung Palace (경복궁).
The vast palace grounds surrounding Changdeokgung are comprised of the public palace area, the royal family residence building, and the rear gardens, Huwon (후원). It suffered destruction and neglect but has been restored to its original grandeur in 1991.
Changdeokgung was the first palace I visited on my trip to Seoul. I was staying at a guesthouse in the Jongno-gu area and the palace was right across the road from me. It was also the first thing that wowed me when I arrived in Seoul. I arrived at almost 9PM and the palace was my landmark for when I have to get off the airport bus. It was amazing seeing it lit up at night and it got me all the more excited to visit it the next day.
I’ve mentioned in this blog before that I love history and anything period — period movies, art, old buildings, museums, castles, etc. That made me really interested to visit Changdeokgung. Add to that is my love for period Korean dramas. I grew up watching Jang Geum, Jumong, Dong Yi, Empress Ki, and Sungkyunkwan Scandal, just to name a few. I even went so far as to have a photo shoot in a hanbok (you can read that story here). And so I visited Changdeokgung with the fascination of someone who was time traveling. This wasn’t a Korean drama anymore; this was real life!
What I loved about Changdeokgung was how preserved everything was. It was as if I stepped back in time. I visited in the morning and it was peaceful and calm, even if I was around this group of children who were on a trip. There were no crowds and I could take my time checking out the pavilions without having to battle it out with other visitors. I am actually planning to return next time in a hanbok. Here are my photos from that short and sweet morning at Changdeokgung Palace.