The smallest of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces is renowned for its mixture of western and eastern architecture.
Deoksugung Palace featuresstately architecture and exhibits featuring national treasure and art.
The palace was first builton this site by the Joseon Dynasty in the 15th century. As with Seoul’s otherGrand Palaces, Deoksugung has been the victim of much destruction over theyears, notably during Japanese occupation in the early 20th century. The palacewas the only one of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces to survive the Japanese invasionof 1592. Today the complex is around a third of its original size, althoughthere are modern additions such as the National Museum of Art.
Enter the walled palacecomplex across the Geumcheon Bridge, which was once used to transport royalcarriages. As you continue around the grounds, you’ll come across Jeukjodangand the Junmyeongdang building, the simple yet beautiful royal living quarters.The Borugak Jaguwongnu is a water clock that was made in 1536 and, although nolonger functioning, is still a notable piece of surviving history.
The two Western-stylebuildings to look out for are Jeonggwanheon and Seokjojeon. The former wasbuilt in 1900, and was where the Emperor Gojong allegedly liked to drink hisbeloved coffee. Seokjojeon was designed by a British architect. The buildingwas completed in 1910, and now houses an excellent exhibition on the palace’streasures.
A Deoksugung Palacehighlight is the Junghwajeon. This is a grand hall where leaders of the GreatKorean Empire once met to discuss important matters. The interior isparticularly striking, with its centerpiece of two golden dragons on theceiling. These mirror the dragons on the canopy outside. Junghwajeon is notalways open to the public, so check ahead. Free English guided tours ofDeoksugung Palace are conducted daily. It’s advisable to book one of thesetours to get the most out of the palace, as there’s a lot to take in. You canbuy an integrated ticket to Deoksugung, which also gives you access toChangdeokgung, Changgyeonggung and Gyeongbokgung palaces, and JongmyoShrine.
Deoksugung Palace is opendaily except on Mondays and public holidays. To get there, take the subway toCity Hall.