Changgyeonggung Palace, located in the heart of Seoul, has been used as a royal residence and and as a secondary palace for queens and the king’s father.
A summer palace known as Sunganggung was first built at this location in 1104 during the reign of King Sukjong of the Goryeo Dynasty.
In 1392, at the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty, the capital of Korea was moved from Kaesong, in present day North Korea, to Seoul, known then as Hanyang. The first king of the Joseon Dynasty, Taejo, resided here while nearby Gyeongbokgung Palace was being built.
Admission is included with the Integrated Ticket Of Palaces.
Closed on Mondays
In 1418, King Sejong built a new royal residence for his father, King Taejong at this location. In 1483 and 1484, buildings at the palace were expanded by King Seongjong for the widows of King Sejo. At this time, the royal residence was renamed Changgyeonggung Palace.
Other Joseon Dynasty palaces in Seoul were built in accordance with strict royal principles regarding design and featured a north-south orientation. Changgyeonggung Palace was built differently. It features a more liberal design in an east-west orientation which was common during the Goryeo Dynasty.
Myeongjeongjeon, the main throne hall, Myeongjeongmun Gate and Honghwamun Gate each face towards Mount Naksan to the east. Joseon Dynasty structures at this time faced to the south.
A lack of living space at Changdeokgung forced Changgyeonggung to be used for residential purposes. Many attendants, princesses, and concubines lived on the grounds here.
Changgyeonggung Palace was destroyed by fires during the Japanese invasion from 1592 to 1598.
One of the most interesting and famous events to happen on the grounds of Changgyeonggung Palace was the murder of Crown Prince Sado. Sado, who was the son of King Yeongjo, was born mentally ill and often would kill people unnecessarily.
Heir to the throne, the royal family worried about the consequences if Sado were to become king. To prevent this, Yeongjo escorted his son Sado to Seonninmun Gate on the eastern side of the palace. Sado was locked inside of rice casket where he eventually started to death.
The wife of Sado, Hyegyong, kept the murder a secret until the death of Yeongjo in 1776. She revealed the secret in her memoir.
The son of Sado, Jeongjo, became the next king of the Joseon Dynasty after the death of Yeongjo. King Jeongjo, a much respected ruler, eventually built Hwaseong Fortress to house the remains of his murdered son.
During the 1800s, life at the here was peaceful. The complex was crowded with royal wives, concubines, residences, government offices, and gardens. This harmonious time was depicted in a painting know as Donggwoldo.
The palace was yet rebuilt again after a fire in 1834.
During the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910-1945, Changgyeonggung was known as Changgyeonggungwon (Changgyeong Garden). It was converted from a beautiful royal palaces into a resort with a zoo and botanical garden.
In 1983, the government of Korea removed the zoo and began work to restore the palace to its original appearance and beauty. Today, the botanical garden and cherry trees that were once planted remain. The work still continues to this day.
Various events are held on select weekends from spring to autumn. These events include tea ceremonies, reenactment of the king’s birthday, and marriage ceremonies.
What to see at Changgyeonggung Palace
Honghwamun Gate, first constructed in 1484, is the main gate of Changgyeonggung Palace. It was here were the king received ordinary people and citizens. The design of is quite modest for a royal residence. This reason led to the addition of a pair of sipjagak (bell pavilions) on each side of the structure.
Daeonsil (Great Greenhouse)
Daeonsil (Great Greenhouse) is an enclosed botanical garden that was built in 1909 and features a royal motif roof with a repeated plum design. The design of the greenhouse, which features pointed arches and window frames, is based on the design of The Crystal Palace in London, England.
Gwandeokjeong Pavilion, meaning "take advantage by shooting arrows", is a open sided building located near Chundangji Pond and Daeonsil (Great Greenhouse).
Tongmyeongjeon Hall, next to Yanghwadang Hall, served as the residential quarters for the king and queen at Changgyeonggung Palace. It was built in 1484. The building has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years, most recently in 1833.
Hwangyeongjeon Hall, near Gyeongchunjeon Hall, was the sleeping residence for kings, princes, and their wives while they were at Changgyeonggung Palace.
Gyeongchunjeon Hall, next to Hwangyeongjeon, was the sleeping residence of the wife of the deceased king at Changgyeonggung Palace. It was also here where multiple Joseon kings were born.
Haminjeong Pavilion was where banquets were held and where the king received high performing civil and military officials at the palace. The name means "the whole world is soaked with the benevolence and virtue of the king."
Myeongjeongjeon Hall and Myeongjeongmun Gate
Myeongjeongjeon Hall is the main hall of Changgyeonggung Palace. Rebuilt in 1616, it is now the oldest remaining main hall of all the palaces in Seoul. It was originally built in 1484 during the reign of King Seongjong. The modest one story structure is built upon a two tiered woldae, or elevated stone yard This is a common feature of other royal residences.
Taesil are shrines which stored the placenta and umbilical cords of the children of the royal family. Next to the shrine is an inscribed stone tablet with a story about the placenta of King Seongjong. This stone tablet is known as a taesilbi. These shrines are found at many locations all around Korea.
Sungmundang Hall was used for banquets and conferences. It was here where the king would discuss state affairs with officials and literature with scholars. It is believed that the hall was first built around 1616 under the rule of King Gwanghaegun, who ruled from 1608 to 1623.
The Jagyeongjeon Site, was the location of the residence of the queen mother. It was in built in 1777 by King Jeongjo for his mother, Queen Heongyeong. It is situated at a spot above Changgyeonggung Palace. The hall and its terraced rear garden offered a beautiful views of the surrounding area.
Punggidae is a stone measuring instrument used to detect the speed of wind and the direction it is blowing. Punggidae is decorated with scroll designs and believed to have been constructed sometime in the 18th century.
The Angbuilgu Sundial, also referred to as the Hemispheric Sundial, was an important and widely used astronomical scientific device used to tell time. It was invented in 1434 during the 16th year of the reign of King Sejong. It got its name, Angbuilgu, from the pot shape design. It literally means "upward looking kettle that catches the shadow of the sun."
Chundangji Pond, located near Daeonsil (Great Greenhouse), consists of two ponds, Daechundangji and the smaller Sochundangji. The smaller of the two was created in 1909 by a process called naenongpo, which involved combining eleven rice paddies.
Yanghwadang Hall, next to Tongmyeongjeon, was the residential quarters of the dowager queen or widow of the king. During the second Manchu invasion of Korea, King Injo took refuge here. The invasion occurred in 1636 when the Qing Empire of China invaded the Joseon Dynasty.