The Land of Kimchi and Palaces – Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. It’s long history began in 18 B.C. when the Baekje Kingdom established its capital in Seoul. Subsequently Seoul then became the capital of several kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula over the next few centuries. The very last dynasty of Korea – the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1910), played an instrumental role in the formation of the modern Korean identity. Korean etiquette, architecture, cultural practices, societal attitudes towards current issues, and even the modern Korean language and its dialects stem from the Joseon Dynasty’s ancient traditions. Home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites which includes palaces, fortress, and temples, Seoul is a popular destination for both foreign visitors and local tourists.

Frasers Hospitality SeoulChangdeokgung Palace Complex – One of the most remarkable examples of sophisticated Far Eastern palace architecture and garden design, Changdeokgung Palace Complex is a famous World Heritage Site in South Korea. Located near to Insadong,  Changdeokgung Palace was the second royal villa built following the construction of Gyeongbukgung Palace in 1405. It was the principal palace for many of the Joseon kings and is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal Joseon palaces. The palace grounds has a public palace area, a royal family residence building, and a beautiful rear garden. Known as a place of rest for the kings, the rear garden has a gigantic tree that is over 300 years old, a small pond, and a pavilion. Buyongjeong, Buyongji, Juhabru, Eosumun, Yeonghwadang, Bullomun, Aeryeonjeong, and Yeongyeongdang are some of the many pavilions and fountains that can be found in the garden. It is said that the most beautiful time to see the garden is during the fall when the autumn foliage is at its peak and the leaves have just started to fall.                                                                                                       The palace became ‘popular’ during and after the time of the 9th king of Joseon, Seongjong, when a number of kings chose to stay here and not at the Gyeongbukgung Palace.

Changdeokgung, like the other Palaces in Seoul, was heavily damaged during the Japanese occupation of Korea. It was burnt to the ground in 1952 and it’s reconstruction started in 1609 by King Seonjo and King Gwanghaegun.  The palace was eventually restored in 1611 and today, it holds a number of cultural treasures such as Injeongjeon Hall, Daejojeon Hall, Seonjeongjeon Hall, and Nakseonjae. Throughout its history of reconstruction and repair it was ensured that the Palace maintained  its original design.

Changdeokgung Palace Complex is only a 10 minute drive from Fraser Suites Insadong Seoul and is a must do.

Operating Hours:
Regular Tour (Changdeokgung Palace):
April–September: 09:00-18:30
October: 09:00-18:00
March & November: 09:00-17:30
December–February: 09:00-17:00

Huwon Course (Guided Tour only):
April–October: 09:00-16:30
March & November: 09:00-15:30
December–February: 09:00-15:00

Admission Prices:
Regular Tour (Changdeokgung Palace):
Individuals: 3,000 won (Adults ages 19-64), 1,500 won (Children ages 7-18)
Huwon Tour (Secret Garden area):
8,000 won (Adults ages 19 and over) (including admission to Changdeokgung Palace)
2,500 won (Children ages 7-18)

Images of Jongmyo Shrine, Seoul
This photo of Jongmyo Shrine is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Jongmyo Shrine – Located next to Changdeokgung Palace Complex, Jongmyo Shrine is the oldest royal Confucian ancestral shrine. The royal family of the Joseon Dynasty paid their respects and homage to their forefathers in the time-honored Confucian tradition. Built as a dedication to the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty, it is 12 minutes away from Fraser Suites Insadong Seoul on foot. Awarded the status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a landmark that has great cultural significance to Korea, and a definite must-see attraction in Seoul. Jongmyo Shrine is made up of Jeongjeon (main hall) and Yeongnyeongjeon (Hall of Eternal Peace). Jeongjeon, with its attached cloister, is said to have been the longest building in Asia. It enshrines the memorial tablets of greatly honored kings and their queens, a total of 19 memorial tablets of kings and 30 tablets of their queens in 19 spirit chambers. Jongmyo Jerye, or the Royal Ancestral Rite, was one of the most important events during the Joseon period. The royal ancestral rite, is regarded as a historical rarity in the world, with 500-year old formalities for ancestral worship set in 1462. It keeps intact the original procedures for the offering of sacrificial gifts of food and drink in authentic ritual utensils, with royal descendents and participants costumed by rank, as well as ritual dance and music ensembles.The rite was conducted five times annually, with additional rites performed on special state occasions to notify the ancestral spirits of the events. According to records, even the king himself offered numerous bows and offered liquor before each chamber as a sign of respect. Visitors can enter the Jongmyo Shrine through the three gates, each leading to different paths designed for specific meanings; the south entrance gate was reserved for spirits to enter and exit, the east gate was for the king, and the west gate was for the performers of the royal ritual. We suggest going on the first Sunday in May so you can watch the annual ritual ceremonies.

Note: Visitors can only enter Jongmyo Shrine in a guided tour group at specific times on weekdays (except Tuesdays) and Sundays. On Saturdays, visitors may enter at their leisure.

Opening Hours:  Daily except Tuesdays
March-October, Mon and Wed-Fri (9am-5pm), Sat-Sun and holidays (9am-7pm);
November-February,  Mon and Wed-Fri (9am-4:30pm), Sat-Sun and holidays (9am-6pm)
Admission Prices: 1,000 won (Adults – ages 19 and over), 500 won (Youths – ages 7-18)

Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty – Situated at 18 different locations in South Korea, the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty features 40 well-preserved tombs of the royal members of the Joseon Dynasty. Constructed between the 1408 and 1966, the unique and standardised layout across the tombs signifies the living tradition of ancestral worship. Positioned at favourable geomantic locations, the Royal Tombs were built to honour and respect the ancestors and their achievements and assert their royal authority. The location of the burial sites are very important, they typically have their back protected by a hill as they face south toward water and, ideally, layers of mountain ridges in the distance. The tombs are set in lush green spaces around the suburbs of Seoul so visitors get the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings, and at the same time, learn about the historical past of the tombs.  The royal tombs feature a ceremonial area, an entrance, and in addition to the burial mounds, a T-shaped wooden shrine, a shed for stele, a royal kitchen and a guards’ house, a red-spiked gate and the tomb keeper’s house. The burial grounds are often adorned on the exterior with a range of stone artifacts including figures of people and animals. Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009, the Joseon Tombs completes the 5,000 year history of royal tombs architecture in the Korean peninsula.

Frasers Hospitality SeoulFor your trip to Seoul, consider staying at any one of our two properties: Fraser Suites Seoul or Fraser Place Central, Seoul. Fraser Suites Seoul is our luxury property in Seoul comprising of 213 fully-furnished gold-standard suites ranging from one to four bedroom apartments to luxurious penthouses. Fraser Suites Seoul is reputedly the first serviced residence in the world to have a rooftop golf driving range, giving you the prefect opportunity to work on that golf swing. Centrally located in Insadong, Fraser Suites Seoul is surrounded by many historic sites dating back hundreds of years including temples, palaces and fortresses, and is only an hour away from Incheon International Airport.

Frasers Hospitality SeoulFraser Place Central is one of the most luxuriously-appointed serviced residences in South Korea offering a seamless blend of professional yet personalized service, comfort and convenience for you and your family. Featuring an indoor swimming pool, jet pool and an extensively-equipped fitness club with steam and dry sauna facilities that offers hot and cold baths, Fraser Place Central Seoul is the ideal retreat within the city. Available and located on the lobby level is also Union Square, a 360 sq metres all-day brasserie, offering the finest fusion cuisine with the option of an indoor or al fresco dining.

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