Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gyeongbokgung Palace

So in general I won't post about every museum/palace/art gallery, etc I see because it would make this blog endless and boring, but it's definitely worth mentioning Gyeongbokgung (just sound it out) Palace in Seoul since it is one of the most famous attractions. However, I'm less interested in writing about its cultural/ historical value, than its aesthetic appeal. I'm not sure how often people recommend this...but I would pay the $2 entrance fee just to sit here every once and a while:

Although there are lots of tourists milling around, the palace grounds are so huge and there is so much to see that it's pretty easy to find a relatively quiet spot to sit, relax, and enjoy the view. To give you an idea of how big this place is (keep in mind that this place is also smack dab in the middle of downtown Seoul) here is map of the complex. This part above, the lake shrine area as I'm going to call it, is just the part that I circled on the map:

Guided tours take about two hours. However, after taking a whirlwind tour of Hongdae the night before I wasn't up for a two hour history lesson, so I read the little guide book which contained the above map instead. What I really learned from this guide book? Why, among many many other reasons, the Koreans have every right to hold a grudge against the Japanese. This palace was first built in 1395, but the original structures are virtually gone because the Japanese completely destroyed it...twice.  Parts of it are still in the process of restoration.

I'm glad they're working on it though. Here's the view from the bench I sat on for about 45 minutes:

If you want to be truly amazed, I'd recommend coming here just to take a walk...I realize the history is important, but sometimes it's nice to actually absorb and truly see your surroundings, rather than listen to a tour guide drone on for two hours and rush from building to building. Instead, try to retain some of the wonder. You can also come here and be amazed at this:

And crane your neck to gawk at ceilings like this:

Unfortunately it's not the greatest picture since I took it with my iPhone and basically had to lie down on the ground to snap the picture (you can't physically walk into many of the buildings, you have to look from outside), but you can get the idea of how elaborate the interiors of these buildings are.

Ta ta for now! Enjoy the view!

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