Monday, October 1, 2012

Seoul 5: Gyeongbokgung & Cheongwadae (10/1/2012)

Monday, October 1, 2012
A short Metro ride brought us to Gyeongbokgung/Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven. Today, since we were not dressed in hanbok (traditional dress), we had to pay admission.
This was the first and greatest palace in Seoul. Gyeongbokgung was built in 1395 when King Taejo moved the capital here three years after founding the Joseon Dynasty. There is some confusion as to who actually burned down the palace, but it was destroyed in 1592, along with the other palaces and the Jongmyo Shrine. It was not rebuilt until 1867, and was again demolished during the Japanese occupation.
The Japanese built their Government General building in the area directly in front of Gyeongbokgung. Although this building was used as a capital when Korea gained independence, it was eventually removed when the National Assembly building was constructed. Efforts are being made to restore Gyeongbokgung to its original state.
Starting with Gwanghwamun which was completed in 2010:
The Gwanghwamun is one of four gates in the walls surrounding Gyeongbokgung. It is the main gate and represents summer and fire. Standing guard outside the gate are a pair of Haetae, legendary creatures resembling a lion. Haetae are fire eaters and are placed to protect a place from fire. In the past, when citizens reached the Haetae, they had to dismount and walk as the Haetae marked the property of the king.
Today soldiers and flag bearers in traditional dress stood guard at the gate:
Heungnyemun/a secondary gate:
You then cross the Yeongjegyo/bridge, guarded by another mythical animal, the Seosu:
The Geunjeongjeon is the main throne hall:
It sits on a two-tier stone terrace surrounded by stone railings on which sit guardian animals, including the Zodiac Snake (Dragon?):
A Zodiac Tiger:
A Zodiac Horse:
A Zodiac Rooster:
The coronation ceremony would be performed in Geunjeongjeon:
Ornate ceiling and wall decorations:
Sajeongjeon was where the king held daily meeting with his officials:
Gangnyeongjeon served as the king's living quarters:
Lots of roof lines:
These bridges lead to the huge Gyeonghoeru/Pavilion of Joyous Meeting, surrounded by water:
The king would hold formal banquets here:
A garden behind the Gyotaejeon, the queen's residence built in 1440, contains picturesque chimneys.
The living quarters were heated by Ondol, the traditional Korean floor heating system with flues that vented through chimneys usually placed away from the buildings.
Tamiko at an inner wall gate:
The presence of so much decoration indicates an area where females lived.
We detoured to the National Folk Museum:
Moved here in 1993 into the former site of the National Museum of Korea.
We aren't sure if all the activity was due to the holiday, or if it happened every weekend. There were activities for children including paper origami-type dolls:
Weaving an egg carrier:
Playing traditional musical instruments:
Playing traditional games:
A grist mill:
A toddler in traditional dress:
Back in Gyeongbokgung, the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion:
Another square pond with a round islet.
We exited Gyeongbokgung through the north gate to see Cheongwadae/the Blue House:
The Blue House, so named because of the blue-tiled roof, is the residence and offices of the President of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak.
His actual residence is hidden by trees on the right.
Down the street is the Hyoja Fountain:
Time for lunch!

No comments: