This city really rose to prominence as a tourist destination during the 1986 Asian Games, the Olympic Games in 1989, the Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup in 2002 and the G-20 Summit in 2010. Visitors realized all that the city had to offer and now flocked here to tour such magnificent sites as the Royal Shrines of the Joseon Dynasty, five palaces and many museums.
This museum in Yongsan Family Park boasts 150,000 artifacts collected over the past 50 plus years and give visitors a view of this area’s extensive history. The museums architecture has won many prestigious awards around the globe.
This historical site, also called the Northern Palace dates back to 1395. Considered the grandest of the areas five palaces, it contains 7,700 rooms. During the Japanese occupation, the place was set on fire but was fully restored to its former glory during the reign of King Gojong (1852-1919).
Visitors can view the Gyeongbokgung Pavilion of the Joseon Dynasty, sculptures and art in the Royal Audience Chamber and the castle pond.
Located on the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung Place, this museum focuses on historical replica pieces to illustrate the life of Koreans. There are three primary exhibition halls – the History of Korean People, Korean Way of Life and Life Cycle of the Koreans – with more than 98,000 pieces on display.
This palace built in 1405, was home to many Joseon kings. Once a royal family residence, this site also burned down due to an uprising by the local citizens in 1592. The family fled during the Japanese invasion but the castle was restored in 1611 by Gwanghaegun.
Inside this palace, which has been designated a World Cultural Heritage site, visitors will find cultural treasures in Daejojeon Hall, Injeongjeon Hall, Nakseonjae and Seonjeongjeon Hall. Outside the palace is a rear garden called Biwon and a burial ground of the royal family. The garden area also includes several pavilions and a main fountain.
Visitors to this palace enter via the Geumcheon bridge to the former home of Wolsandaegun (1454-1488), who was the eldest brother of King Seongjong (Joseon Dynasty). The Jeukjodang Building is where former kings ascended their thrones and the East Wing offers a view of the king’s room, while the West Wing is where the Queen resided.
The Jeonggwanheon building, which is where Go Jong spent most of his time, includes a secret passageway to the Russian Emissary. The Seokjojeon building in the east wing is a newer site and art gallery holding palace treasures, while the west wing includes part of the National Modern Arts Center.
Visitors to Deoksugung Palace can also view a 30-minute changing of the guard ceremony, a famous part of this city’s royal culture. The Daehanmun Gate opens for this event three times each day (except Monday): 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Traditional musical instruments lead the guards in brightly-colored costumed along followed by the beating of a drum.
Located within Deoksugung Palace, this museum of modern art offers visitors works to view in six exhibition halls. The site’s permanent collection is called The Soul of Chun Kyung Ja, who was a famous Korean artists. Aside from local artists, the museum also hosts the works of such well known names from around the world such as Picasso, Van Gogh and Chegall.
This museum located in downtown Seoul displays the geological and biological records on the area’s local environment. Visitors can see minerals, fossils and rocks, as well as specimens of various animals, dinosaurs and insects from around the globe.
Located in the old Korean Supreme Court building in the city’s core area behind the Deoksugung Palace, this museum offers visitors a view of six exhibitions of art on three floors and an outdoor park with sculptures. Branches of this museum are located within Gyeonghuigung Castle and in Namhyeon-dong, Gwanak-gu.
Opened in 1994, this site is a former army headquarters established in memory of Korea’s military history. The memorial includes six indoor rooms with exhibitions of 13,000 pieces of memorabilia, as well as military equipment.
During the Joseon Dynasty, this was a major place of worship for the area’s kings. Built between 1335 and 1408, it has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
Visitors can see the ancient customs of the Korean people through memorial services and traditional musical presentations. A three-forked path begins at the main gate with the center path honoring the former kings. Visitors can follow the path to Jeongjeon to see the kings’ mortuary tablets.
This site was at one time a prison and is now home to a history museum. It formerly housed activists during the Colonial period and was then turned into a prison by the government. In 1987, a new prison was built and this site became a museum.
Reminiscent of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada complete with a revolving restaurant, the N Seoul Tower can be found on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul. This communications and observation tower was built in 1980 as a major symbol for the city. Also known as the C J Seoul Tower and Namsan Tower, it rises to 478.7 meters (1,574 feet) above sea level.
Visitors can ride a cable car up the mountain to the tower where they will find a gift shop and restaurants on the main floor. Then they can take a ride to one of four observation decks where they can take in a panoramic view of Seoul.
In this hub of activity tourists can get to know the people of Seoul through shopping, entertainment venues and cultural centers. Located near the Seoul Station in Yongsan-gu, it has earned the name of ‘global village in Seoul.’ The area also offers an international dining experience in its many restaurants.
The Korean Tourism Organization provides centers where visitors can learn more about these and other local attractions in and around Seoul. One is located at the Incheon International Airport and another in downtown Seoul.
- In the heart of Seoul: The South Korean capital has plenty of surprises for urban adventurers (independent.co.uk)
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- Gyeongbokgung Palace in Autumn (banheethespectator.wordpress.com)
- Exploring the Age-Old Buildings of Gyeongbok Palace (theplaceswevebeen.wordpress.com)
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- Kim Jong Un, North Korea New Leader, Fashions Himself As Reincarnation Of Kim Il Sung (huffingtonpost.com)
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