Address: Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
How to get there: around 2 blocks from Anguk Station Exit 3.
Operating Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (depending on the season)
Entrance Fee: W3,000, tour included (W10,00 if you purchase the consolidated tickets for 4 palaces and the Jongmyo Shrine)
Changdeokgung is also called the East Palace which refers to its position in reference to Gyeongbokgung. Changdeokgung means Prospering Virtue Palace. It’s secondary to the grander Gyeongbokgung. However, the last king of Korea decided to stay here before moving to Tokyo as semi-permanent residents.
The palace offers free tours in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. You can check out their website for more information.
The palace’s Donhwamun Gate. Notice the three openings in the gate? The middle one’s for royal use only. If you’re not part of the royal family, you have no use for the central entry. The other two are for entry of political and military officers.
At the Injeongjeon Hall there are stone place markers. They identify your rank and where you will line up during royal ceremonies. The higher your rank, the closer you are to the king.
The art of the Injeongjeon Hall’s roof. This is also the recurring art in most buildings in the castle.
The buildings where the king reside or work in have these Chinese characters on the roof. It is meant to wish the king a long and healthy life because to the Korean’s the king’s health is always the priority.
Chimneys for the ondol heating system are placed far from the buildings because it could damage the colors of the wood.
On the roof tiles, there are inscriptions of a Chinese character that looks like a spider. The Chinese character also represents long life – so does the spider, in Korean beliefs.
The Naksonjae is where the last Korean king resided before he moved to Tokyo.
We were early at the area before the 10:30 AM English tour started. Although there are markers that introduce the palace buildings it is still advisable to join the tour because you’d get to learn tidbits that the introductory posters don’t tell you.
The palace is huge. We weren’t able to get the Secret Garden ticket because of time constraints. I love how every inch of the buildings have a meaning. The next time I come back, I would go when the sky is dark and the lights are on. I heard Changdeokgung is also very lovely at night.