Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gyeonghuigung Palace

Despite the number of times I've visited Korea, I had never visited any of the royal palaces before today. During the next few weeks, I hope to explore each of them, as well as other important historical sites. This morning, I spent some time at Gyeonghuigung (경희궁), also known as Gyeonghui Palace (gung means "palace" in Korean).

Gyeonghui Palace was a detached royal villa, constructed as one of the "Five Grand Palaces" of the Joseon Dynasty. Construction began in 1617 and was completed in 1623. Gyeonghuigung originally comprised 100 structures in addition to Sungjeongjeon, the main hall. Gyeongjong (the 20th king of Joseon), Jeongjo (22nd king), and Heonjong (24th king) held their coronation ceremonies here.

In 1910, during the Japanese invasion, Gyeonghui Palace was razed by the Japanese in order to build a middle school on the palace site for expatriate Japanese citizens. Over the past few decades, the main buildings have been rebuilt in their original form through meticulous reconstruction efforts.

Gyeonghuigung translates to "Palace of Serene Harmony".

The center gates and path were reserved for the king.

Sungjeongjeon, the main hall

The stone tablets marked the position of top government officials
who stood next to them, by rank, during royal processions.

Interior of Sungjeongjeon

Dancheong (traditional Korean decorative building paint)

Jajeongjeon, used as a meeting hall for public officials
(and as a memorial shrine during the late Joseon period)

Giwa (roof tilework)

Mythical stone figures placed on the roof to ward off evil spirits
(kind of like Korean gargoyles)

The surrounding landscape doesn't seem to have changed much.