If I had to choose only one royal palace to visit in Seoul, it would be Changdeokgung Palace. I love all five main royal palaces in Seoul; Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung and Gyeonghuigung. Each of palaces has its own distinct beauty. Then, what makes Changdeokgung more appealing than others?
1) It is the most well-preserved royal place built by the Joseon Dynasty and served as the main palace for about 270 years during about 500 years of Joseon. The primary palace of Joseon was Gyeongbokgung. However, Gyeongbok Palace had been destroyed by fire in the late 16th century and it was only restored in the 19th century. While Gyeongbokgung remained in ruins, Changdeokgung served as the royal residence and government offices for nearly three centuries.
2) It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Changdeokgung was listed as a Unesco world heritage site in 1997 because it is “an exceptional example of Far Eastern palace architecture and design, blending harmoniously with the surrounding landscape.”
3) Changdeokgung’s highlight is Huwon Secret Garden. The rear garden was a place of retreat for the royal members. It had been called Biwon, Bukwon, Geumwon and more but most commonly used name now is Huwon (후원) meaning rear garden. Its English name is Secret Garden though. The Secret Garden accounts for two thirds of the site. If you don’t visit Huwon Secret Garden, you are missing out a huge part of what Changdeokgung has to offer.
To visit the Secret Garden, visitors are required to join a guided tour. You can either book a tour online or buy the ticket on site. Tickets are on a first-come-first-served basis so I recommend booking a tour on its official website. The tour takes about 90 minutes.
Here are some photos of Changdeokgung and its Huwon Secret Garden from this winter.
Address : 99 Yulgok-ro, Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Public Transportation : Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) Exit 3, Jongno 3-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3 and 5) Exit 6.
Operating Hours : 09:00 ~ 18:00 (Jun – Aug : 09:00 ~ 18:30, Nov – Jan : 09:00 ~ 17:30), closed on Mondays.
General Admission : 3,000 won
Secret Garden Admission: 8,000 won (General Admission Fee is included)
Webpage : http://eng.cdg.go.kr