Gyeonbokgung: Symbol of the nation in the heart of Seoul

by .
USAG Yongsan

YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- Eiffel Tower of France, Big Ben of England, and the Great Wall of China. These are the greatest cultural legacies that first come to mind when visualizing these specific countries. When it comes to Korea, Gyeonbokgung is given the honor of being the nation's cultural icon.

Take a walk along the Gwanghwamun Square on Sejongno, the majestic passage that leads Seoul City Hall to Gyeongbokgung. Countless vehicles of various sizes, numerous people coming and going from everywhere develops a strange, yet beautiful harmony with the ancient legacies of Korea. With its location determined for its strategic significance, the Gyeonbokgung dates back all the way to Joseon Dynasty. It served as the main palace --'gung' means 'palace' in Korean - for the greatest emperors of the era. Looking for a place where you can go back in time, visit historic sites, and have a quality time with Korean culture? This is the right place.

Gyeongbokgung was built in 1395, three years after the foundation of Joseon Dynasty, and for more than five hundred years it was a majestic and luxurious abode for the emperors. The name signifies 'the new dynasty will enjoy fortune and flourish', making the palace a symbol of national sovereignty. With Mount Bugak to its rear and Sejongno outside Gwanghwamun Gate - the main gate of the palace - Gyeongbokgung holds its firm and steadfast position until today in the heart of the capital city.

Mainly 13 areas constitute the whole palace, one of which is Gyeonghoeru Pavilion. Gyeonghoeru was where the king threw formal banquets for foreign envoys. The king and his party went up to Gyeonghoeru to enjoy a sweeping view of the palace and the majestic mountains. The sights still remain the same, although there are minor 'contemporary modifications.' This is why to visit Gyeongbokgung is to travel back in time to bask in the delights of the emperor.

That is not the only cultural experience to be encountered in Gyeongbokgung. If you desire to take a closer look at Korea's cultural artifacts, you might want to visit The National Folk Museum of Korea, which provides free gallery tours at 10:30 and 14:30 for English speakers.

Inside the palace there is also a street that represents the late 19th century street in South Korea when the electricity was first made available. A streetcar and shops in traditional houses ('Hanok') show the beginning of the modern era. The history of this nation still breathes within the palace itself.

The Republic of Korea stands on the bedrock of five-thousand-years-long history. Among those five thousand years, Joseon Dynasty is always recalled as the most glamorous five hundred years. Gyeongbokgung is the emblem and the pearl of that era. There are other monuments and historic legacies in the peninsula, but there is no place that describes this country better than Gyeongbokgung.

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