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A business and leisure trip to Seoul and also to China. It was my first time to Seoul and South Korea. After my arrival day I had two days scheduled to see the most important highlights of Seoul sights. Careful planning and effective usage of the metro made me accomplish my goals. In this post I take you to the most important places in Seoul.
Arriving to Seoul and the Bongeun Temple
A direct flight by KLM from Amsterdam to Seoul, Incheon. Arrived there close to afternoon time at the Intercontinental hotel CEOX. Checked out the Bongeun Temple across the street. This temple traditional an important Buddhist temple and now one of the largest in Seoul as the Gangnam region transformed from rice fields to a huge urban area. The first Seoul sight ticked of my list.
Exploring west and north Seoul sights
On the program today are two of the five grand palaces build by the Joseon Dynasty, the city gate and temple and old village. Must say, after seeing all, that the palaces kind of look like each other. But as a die hard see all, did them all 🙂 First stop Gyeonghuigung Palace. It was the main palace for 10 kings in the dynasty and later served as secondary palace. It was completely destroyed by the Japanese and only about a third was rebuild as other parts of the site where used for urbanization.
After I bought an umbrella, it was poring rain at some times. Then continued to Deoksugung which is also one of the five grand palaces and inhabited by the royals till the end of the 19th century. It has a nice garden with statues, the buildings of the palace including some western style buildings. Also here however the site is not complete anymore and just less then half remains today.
From here it’s a small walk to the Namdaemun, Sungnyemun City gate. In 2008 it actually burned down and was rebuild and opened again in 2013. The gate dates back to the 14th century and has a pagoda like look. One of the 8 and one of the 3 major gates of Seoul back in those days. From here through the Namdaemum market walked to the Cathedral of Seoul. From here a taxi to Bukchon Hanok village and a short walk further to the Jogyesa temple. The Hanok village is a 600 year old urban environment. The Jogyesa temple is the chief temple of Korean Buddhism and dates back to the 14th century.
In the evening I went for some great dinner with business associates!
Exploring the remainder of Seoul sights
Today the UNESCO sites on the program in Seoul – and the sky was blue, great weather. But first stop another palace: Gyeongbokgung. Situated in the north eastern part of Seoul it’s the oldest palace of the dynasty. During the Japanese occupation most buildings where destroyed. Only 10 were left. Most things are rebuild but its not sure how all looked like.
Now, up to the highlights: Changdeokgung Palace Complex, Jongmyo Shrine both inscribed at the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Changdeokgung also has a secret garden, which only can be entered with a tour. It’s worth it. Next to the palace is one more of the five grand palace’s: Changgyeongung. It’s on the same site but not part of UNESCO, this palace is complete rebuild in the 80’s. Most interesting structures are: Donhwamun Gate, Geumcheongyo Bridge, Injeongjeon Hall, Seonjeongjeon Hall, Huijeongdang Hall, Daejojeon Hall, Juhamnu Pavilion, Yeon-gyeongdang Residence. Also here you can see on top of some of the building the Original Blue Tiles which are very typical.
Then to the second UNESCO Site, the Jongmyo Shrine. It’s a Confucian shrine dedicated to the kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty. It held ceremonies and more, even now there are still ceremonies held.
The remainder of the two days in Seoul were only for business. In the evening great times with friends until early morning out party. A great time I had and for sure want to go back to Seoul soon and the surrounding areas to see the last of the Seoul sights.