Deoksugung Palace has had many names throughout history depending on the Royal person residing in the palace. It was built during the Joseon Dynasty and was previously named Jeongneungdong Temporary Palace when King Seonjo used it. Then, it was renamed Gyeongungung Palace when Prince Gwanghae’s turn to reside in it. The Deoksugung Palace name, which means “Palace of Virtue and Longevity”, was used when King Gojong was forced to abdicate the throne during the Japanese occupation.
Deoksugung Palace is the smallest among the five palaces in Seoul but it is also as majestic as the others. The original buildings in the complex are of East Asian architecture but additional buildings with Western influences were also added. The complex consists of the Daehanmun, Junghwamun and Gwangmyeonmun Gates, Deokhongjeon Hall (reception room), Junghwajeon Hall (main hall), Hamnyeongjeon Hall (the king’s sleeping quarters), Jeukjodang Hall (main hall then became the queen’s quarters), Junmyeongdang (kindergarten of the late Princess Deokhye), Seogeodang (King residences) and Jeong Gwan-heon (enshrines the portraits of the Kings of Joseon Dynasty).
The Western buildings can be found on the left side of the complex which are the Seokjojeon (venue for meeting high officials and foreign envoys), Seokjojeon West Hall, Jungmyeongjeon Hall (imperial library turned into a venue for military conferences), and Dondeokjeon Hall of Emotions (luncheon venue). Today, Seokjojeon has become the Seokjojeon Korean Empire History Museum, the Seokjojeon West Hall has become a branch of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Jungmyeongjeon has become an exhibition hall.
CHANGING OF ROYAL GUARDS
After our Jeju trip, we finally had the time to explore South Korea’s capital, Seoul. Our first destination was the Deoksugung Palace. We arrived at the location just in time for the Changing of Royal Guards Ceremony, it’s like going back in time and seeing early South Koreans doing an important and age-old tradition.
We entered Daehanmun Gate and I was astonished by its architecture. It was my first time seeing an East Asian building in real life. The huge grounds of the complex and the buildings also amaze me, I only see this kind of environment in movies and series since the Philippines is heavily influenced by Western countries. We took some time exploring the area and taking pictures before going to the Museum of Modern Art in Seokjojeon West Hall.
Most of the buildings in the complex were destroyed by fire but the South Korean government made a huge effort to rebuild them. I admired their efforts and became curious on what is South Korea’s culture and history. This is a sign that it is very important to take care of the past so that its people and foreigners can treasure its identity and learn from its history.
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TRAVEL GUIDE & TIPS
- 99 Sejong-daero, Jung District, Seoul, South Korea
HOW TO GET THERE:
a. BY SEOUL CITY TOUR BUS (BOOK HERE):
- If you are taking the hop-on/hop-off Seoul City Tour Bus, the bus starts and stops at Gwanghwamun Station near Deoksugung Palace. This bus will take you to N Seoul Tower, other Seoul destinations, and different ancient palaces. (Intervals: 30 Minutes, From 9:00 A.M. – 9:00 P.M.)
- Walk to Deoksugung Palace
b. BY SUBWAY:
- Drop at any of these stations: City Hall Station, Eujiro 1-ga Station, or Gwanghwamun Station.
- Walk to Deoksugung Palace.
c. CAR RENTAL:
d. TRAVEL TOURS (Include admission ticket, tour guide):
- Admission Fees (Locals): ₩1000
- Admission Fees (Foreigners – Adults): ₩1000
- Admission Fees (Foreigners – Minors): FREE
- Admission Fees (During “Culture Day”, every last Wednesday of the month): FREE
- Admission Fees (Wearing a Hanbok upon entry): FREE
- DEOKSUGUNG PALACE TOUR VIA KLOOK
- HANBOK RENTAL VIA KLOOK
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- Nami Island / Alpaca / Railbike / Petite France / Morning Calm Tour
- Lotte World Ticket in Seoul
- N Seoul Tower Ticket
- Website: https://www.deoksugung.go.kr/
- OPERATING HOURS: 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. (Tuesdays to Sundays); Closed (Every Monday)
- Changing of Royal Guards Ceremony schedule: 11:00 A.M., 2:00 P.M., 3:30 P.M.
- Wearing a Hanbok on your visit grants you a free admission pass. This is their way to popularize and globalize Hanbok. Check the Hanbok Guidelines HERE.
- Smoking is not allowed inside the premises.
- There is a free guided tour available (Tuesdays-Sundays): English – 10:45 A.M., 1:30 P.M. | Chinese – 10:00 A.M., 2:30 P.M. | No Tours on Holidays
- There are no parking facilities at Deoksugung Palace.
- It is the only palace complex in Seoul open until 9:00 P.M.