Stand before a magnificent throne of kings, hear tales of political intrigue and relax under the shade of ancient trees at the 15th-century Changdeok Palace. This grand complex served as the principal royal residence in Seoul for 270 years.
Since completion in 1405, Changdeok Palace has succumbed to fires and bombardments on several occasions. Today, 13 buildings remain and they are set among 44.5 hectares (110 acres) of parkland.
Enter the palace through the main gate, called the Donhwamun Gate. Immediately, you will come to the 15th-century stone bridge, one of the oldest of its kind in Seoul. Before crossing, look at the carvings of mythical, unicorn-lion figures that decorate the arches.
Visit the palace’s audience chamber where coronations and other important ceremonies were held. Observe the ornate throne and absorb the immense room’s eclectic décor with its mix of Eastern and Western styles. Go deeper into the compound to see the royal residential building and the separate bedchambers for kings and queens.
Lauded for blending in with its surroundings, Changdeok Palace was designed to respect the uneven natural topography rather than cut through it. Most of the complex is occupied by the Rear Garden, also known as the Secret Garden because it used to be inaccessible to ordinary people. Today, the public can roam the 31.5 hectares (78 acres) of landscaped lawns, pavilions, trees, flowers and lotus ponds. Access to the garden attracts an additional admission charge.
Guided tours of the palace and garden are included in the ticket price and conducted in English. There is also a sign language tour of the garden. For details of times, visit Changdeok Palace’s official website.
Changdeok Palace is open every day except Monday. Give yourself at least 3 hours to explore the ancient buildings and parkland.
Located in the Jongno District in central Seoul, the palace is well connected to the public transport network. The nearest subway station is a 5-minute walk away and several bus lines stop outside the compound. Free car parking is available in the palace’s parking lot, but it’s often crowded.