Changgyeonggung Palace

Getty Images/Flickr RF


Northern Seoul

Originally built in the 15th century by King Sejong for his father, this is one of Seoul's 'five grand palaces'. It backs onto the more impressive Changdeokgung – the two palaces shared the secret garden. The throne hall, Myeongjeongjeon, is the oldest surviving hall of all Seoul's palaces. It was rebuilt in 1616, making it a rare example of intact 17th-century Joseon architecture. The oldest surviving structure here is the Okcheongyo stone bridge (1483), which crosses the stream ahead of the front gate.

The smaller buildings beyond the main hall were where the kings and queens lived in their separate households. From here, paths wind past a European-style garden and ornamental pond to the Great Greenhouse, a splendid Victorian-esque glass structure built by the Japanese in 1909.

Like Seoul's other palaces, Changgyeonggung was destroyed twice by the Japanese – first in the 1590s and 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.

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. There are free English guided tours at 11am and 4pm daily.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Seoul attractions

1. Myeongjeongjeon

0.06 MILES

The main hall of Changgyeonggung, Myeongjeongjeon was rebuilt in 1616, making it a valuable example of 17th-century Joseon architecture, and the oldest…

2. Changdeokgung

0.26 MILES

The World Heritage–listed Changdeokgung is the most beautiful of Seoul's five main palaces. You must join a one-hour guided tour to look around. English…

3. Huwon

0.27 MILES

Walk through the dense woodland at the rear of the main buildings of Changdeokgung and suddenly you come across a serene glade. The Huwon is a beautiful…

4. Great Greenhouse

0.31 MILES

On the grounds of Changgyeonggung is this splendid Victorian-stye greenhouse built by the Japanese in 1909.

5. Jongmyo

0.31 MILES

Surrounded by dense woodland, the impressive buildings of the Confucian shrine Jongmyo house the spirit tablets of the Joseon kings and queens and some of…

6. Gonsindang

0.34 MILES

On the right-hand side of the entrance to Jongmyo, the World Heritage–listed Confucian shrine, this building houses the spirit tablets of 83 meritorious…

7. Tteok & Kitchen Utensil Museum

0.36 MILES

For those interested in the local sweet culture, this two-room museum at the Institute of Traditional Korean Food offers displays of rice cakes in…

8. Arario Museum in SPACE

0.38 MILES

Korean business magnate and contemporary-art collector Kam Chang-il has found the perfect home for jewels from his collection at this ivy-clad brick…