Originally built in the early 15th century by King Sejong for his parents, the oldest surviving structure of this palace is the Okcheongyo stone bridge (1483) over the stream by the main gate. The main hall, Myeongjeongjeon, 1616, has lovely latticework and an ornately carved and decorated ceiling.
Look out for dates (usually in early May) when the palace is open for night viewing and illuminated, making it a romantic spot – if you can ignore the crowds.
The stone markers in the front courtyard show where the different ranks of government officials had to stand during major state ceremonies.
The smaller buildings behind the main hall were where the kings and queens lived in their separate households. Beyond here paths passing through a spacious wooded garden with an ornamental pond Chundangji lead to the Great Greenhouse, Korea’s first modern conservatory built in 1909 by the Japanese.
Like the other palaces, Changgyeonggung was destroyed twice by the Japanese – first in the 1590s and then again during the colonial period from 1910 until 1945, when the palace suffered the indignity of being turned into a zoo. Only a fifth of the palace buildings survived or have been rebuilt.