Gwanghwamun Gate is the imposing main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. The gate has been rebuilt many times over the years but remains an icon of Seoul.
Construction began in 1395 at the beginning of the Joseon dynasty. The gate quickly became one of the most important gates of the Joseon Dynasty since it guarded the main palace.
There are three other gates that can be found along the 2,404 meters (7,887 feet) of walls surrounding the palace. The other three gates are Sinmumun, Geonchunmun, and Yeongchumun.
The gate consists of three entrances and a towering two story pavilion. At one time, Gwanghwamun was guarded by multiple watchtowers.
In 1592, the gate was destroyed by the Japanese during their invasion of Korea during the Imjin War. In 1867, almost 250 years later, the gate was reconstructed during the reconstruction of adjacent Gyeongbokgung Palace.
In 1926, the Japanese who occupied Korea at the time, moved Gwanghwamun near the location of the present day National Folk Museum of Korea. The gate was moved to make room for the new Japanese Governor General Building, which stood at this location until its demolition in 1995.
During the Korean War, the wooden gatehouse was destroyed once again. It was rebuilt using concrete and remained this way until 2006.
In December 2006, work began to restore Gwanghwamun to its original wooden specifications. The restoration work paid special attention to historical details. On August 15, 2010, restoration work was completed at a cost of 28 billion won ($24 million).