Korean Independence Day
종묘 Shrine and 창경궁 Palace
Today is Korea's Liberation Day. On 15 August 1945, Korea was freed from Japanese Occupation and this seemed to be a perfect day to come to Korea's capital and see some of their greatest national monuments.
My morning starts with a visit to 종묘 Jongmyo Shrine, the oldest royal Confucian shrine, having been established in 1394.
Inside the entrance to the park area. Notice the stone walkway. Only the King was allowed to walk along the center raised path.
The south gate into 정전 Jeongjeon, the main hall of the shrine.
The raised stone courtyard of Jeongjeon with the main building to the left and the south gate to the right.
영녕전 Yeongnyeongjeon (the Hall of Eternal Peace) acts as an extention to Jeongjeon. Again, the double tier stone courtyard before the hall is enclosed by a stone wall with three gate.
A better view of 영녕전 Yeongnyeongjeon.
I didn't know at the time, but there is a bridge allowing access from Jongmyo to ChangGyeongGung to the north of the shrine. So, I instead walked around and paid the very small entrance fee again (a mere 1000 Won, less than US$1).
The main entrance to this small palace. All palaces feature this artifical stream we must cross for a ritual cleansing before entering the palace.
Notice the woman with her umbrella on the beautiful, sunny day. Koreans find a tan unattractive, a sentiment I do not agree with.
The main courtyard inside the entrance leading up to the main meeting hall at the center of the palace.
Looking inside the main meeting hall of 창경궁 ChangGyeongGung.
Looking back from the meeting hall across the front stone courtyard.
ChangGyeongGung Palace was built by the "Emperor" of Korea in the early 20th century for his father shortly before the Japanese Annexation of Korea. This particular building is one of many living quarters for the former Emperor's concubines.
The grounds of this palace was converted into a zoo during the Japanese Rule over Korea.
The main gate entrance to 창덕궁 ChangDeokGung Palace.
There were a couple automated ticketing machines available at ChangDeokGung Palace, in Seoul, but this sign above them clearly dictates in English "For Korean Nationals Only"... Now, really, why couldn't it read "Only in Korean Language"? And then why couldn't they add some common internation languages (primarily English and Japanese)? It's just so Korean to make foreigners feel unwelcome...
The 흥녜문 HeungNyeMun, the second inner south gate to 경복궁 GyeongBokGung (Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven), the main palace of the Kings of the Joseon Dynasty before the Japanese Invasions of the 1590's.
The 근정문 GeunJeonMun, the third inner south gate to Gyeongbokgung. Notice the artificial stream we must cross as a spiritual cleansing and the raised stone path, with the center path reserved for only the King.
The main stone courtyard in front of 근정전 Geunjeongjeon, the large throne hall where the King formally accepted audiences. The original building was burned down during the Japanese Invasions of the 1590's and this building was built in 1867 during the reconstruction.
Looking south from the Throne Hall of Gyeongbokgung to the skyline of modern 서울 Seoul.
A close look at the colored wood structure of the Throne Hall.
Inside the Throne Hall with the throne on it's raised platform in the center of the building.
Looking inside and across the Throne Hall.
Looking up to the center of the ceiling of the Throne Hall. The double dragon design is common in Korean palaces.
A nice look into one of the many residential buildings behind the Throne Hall.
A look under the roof of these beautiful buildings.
A nice open area of the palace grounds with the mountains to the north in the background.
Part of the neighboring national musuem.
A nice view of the 근정전 Geunjeongjeon Throne Hall of the 경복궁 Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Looking south to the Seoul skyline behind the 흥녜문 HeungNyeMun, the second inner south gate.
A close look at the stream at the entrance to the palace. Crossing over the stream before entering the inner palace is to symbolically cleanse visitors before they meet the King.
광화문 Gwanghwamun, the main south gate leading to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The gate's currently being recontructed to it's pre-Japanese Occupation glory.
Looking south down 세종로 Sejong-ro (though pronounced "sejongno") from Gwanghwamun to the newly opened Gwanghwamun Plaza.
The US Embassy
The new Gwanghwamun Plaza, looking north to the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Children escaping the heat in the fountain.
The start of the 청계천 CheonggyeCheon stream running through downtown Seoul. Water is pumped to here and the stream starts with a waterfall. As you can see, it also proves to be quite popular among locals looking to escape the heat.
Misters in the middle of the stream, separated from the pedestrians by various plants. I personally find water fountains and misters need to throw cool water into the air to cool people looking for some relief from the heat...
A look west along the ChenggyeCheon.
As the sun sets, many Seoul residents take refuge under this bridge and the kids play in the water.
People enjoying the cool water.
Seoul at night