Friday, August 15, 2014

Hiking around Changgyeonggung Palace

It wouldn't be a weekend for the Bruns Family in Korea if we didn't get out to see something new in Seoul.  This past weekend, we decided to hit up another of the palaces - so off to Changgyeonggung we went!

From their brochure and on-site signage:  
Changgyeonggung was first called Suganggung. After ascending to the throne in 1418, King Sejong built this palace for his father, former King Taejong, to live in. In 1483 the palace was expanded and other buildings were built for various queens and consorts.
At that time the palace was renamed Changgyeonggung. 

All of the buildings were burned down during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and the palace was rebuilt in 1616. In 1830 another great fire broke out and many of the palace's buildings were destroyed by fire, and these were rebuilt in 1834. The main hall called Myeongjeongjeon, however, was undamaged and the building that was rebuilt in 1616 is preserved today. It is the oldest main hall of a Joseon era royal palace, and has been designated National Treasure No. 226.

Myeongjeongjeon and courtyard

Relief  on the steps of two phoenixes in the clouds

The throne area inside the hall

Decorative ceiling above the throne with two phoenixes

On the platform that Myeongjeongjeon is built on, there are a number of these large bowls. They are called Deumeu (드므) and were used to prevent fires. They are small for that purpose and were really meant to scare away fire demons. The belief was that the fire demon would look into the water and be frightened away by its own reflection.

Behind the main building is an open pavilion called Haminjeon - this was where the king would hold meetings or scholars would meet. The ceiling inside is shaped like a well and there are four plaques written in Chinese, with lines from the poem "Sagye, the Four Seasons" by poet Tao Yuanming.

Haminjeon Pavilion

After a brief rest, we climbed up a set of stairs and found this Punggidae. It is a measuring instrument that has a long pole with a cloth hung at the end, and was used to check the speed and direction of the wind.

We also found this stunning view of old meets new...

Hiking north, we found the below shrine, called a Taesil, which the nearby sign said was where the royal family would store the placenta and umbilical cords of their children! 
This happened to be the Taeisil of King Seongjon.

After learning that fun tidbit, and keeping Michael from climbing on the turtle for a ride, we hiked down a path towards the large pond.

 But first, I couldn't resist taking a picture of this massive tree:

The pond, called Chundangji, once had rice paddies that the king would tend himself.

We ventured closer and found some friendly fish swimming along the shore.

Along the path we found this octagonal seven story stone pagoda, which was made in China in 1470 and installed here in 1911.

A smaller pond, covered in green lily pads, greeted us on our way to the glass house.

The glass house, called Daeonsil, was built in 1909 as a public botanical garden.

There are a number of plants and trees inside, as well as a small pond.

Two of my favorite bonsai trees that were there:

After a nice full visit, we trekked back to the front of the palace grounds 
and took a few more pictures.

For those living locally, you can easily find this palace by taking the subway to Hyehwa Station on Line 4.  Turn left at top of exit 4 and follow the left side of Daemyeong-gil (through a popular shopping and restaurant area) to where it ends on Changgyeonggung-ro. Veer/turn left and follow Changgyeonggung-ro for about 5 minutes. Cross the street in front of the science museum and you will see the palace wall on your right.  MAP LINK

I'll leave you with this teaser picture - the family portrait of the day - from our next adventure:  The Seoul National Science Museum.

Man, we are hot!

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