There are four main palaces in Seoul, and this one is described as being the most beautiful of the four and the only one with a secret garden in the back. For over 250 years it served as the seat of government and the royal residence for a number of different kings.
Changdeokgung means “Palace of Illustrious Virtue” and was originally built in the 15th century. It was destroyed when the Japanese invaded in the 1590s but was rebuilt again and today is a Unesco World Heritage site. Many of the buildings were built in a way to blend into the surrounding landscape. The palace grounds today span over 110 acres with 13 palace buildings and 28 pavilions in the gardens. Despite the times that parts of it have been burned, reconstruction and repair through the years have remained faithful to the original design.
Some of the interesting structures on the palace grounds include Donhwamun gate which was built in 1412 (rebuilt after destruction in 1608) and among the palaces it is the largest gate. Injeongjeon Hall was the throne hall and used for all the official state business of the palace. It was burned down twice and been rebuilt. Changdeokgung is also home to the oldest bridge that is still in existence in Seoul, Geumcheongyo Bridge. It was built out of stone in 1411.
Changdeokgung is also famous for its Huwon or “rear garden”. There is an estimated 26,000 different plants in the garden and a number of the trees are over 300 years old. There is a large pond with streams flowing throughout the garden with a number of pavilions scattered about. The garden itself comprises 60% of the palace grounds.
I am already looking forward to visiting Changdeokgung and going to definitely makes sure that the tour we take includes the garden (not all of them do). I may be too busy looking around to actually catch whatever the tour guide says. I will post photos and tidbits that I learn when we do get to go.