Changdeokgung and Biwon
So we have returned to the US but are way behind on blogging about our trip to Korea this summer, so we will still have a number of Korea posts over the upcoming weeks!
Without a doubt, one of our favorite places to visit in Seoul is Changdeokgung. For those of you up on your past K-drama series, “Gung” (a cute K-drama, starring Coffee Prince’s Yoon Eun Hye) or a more accurate pronunciation of “Goong” means “palace”, and Changdeokgung is our favorite of Seoul’s palaces as it is the most well preserved and really incorporates nature on its grounds, including the Secret Garden (Biwon), a huge garden behind the palace.
Changdeokgung was the second palace built (in 1405, after Gyeongbukgung) and a favorite for many of the kings and royal families due to its garden, which still has many trees that are hundreds of years old. Both palaces are a short walk from Insadong and are specified as World Heritage Sites. As we abruptly realized upon trying to take our friend to them on this trip, both are also closed on Mondays!
We love visiting Changdeokgung for its garden, so if you want to visit, be sure to get there early enough to get a ticket to the garden as they are sold separately and sometimes sell out (they limit the number of visitors to help preserve the garden)!
Visiting the palaces in the summer means hot temperatures, so the Secret Garden is a welcome relief as it heavily shaded by all of the large trees. The garden was designed to embrace nature, not alter it, so apart from being incredibly beautiful, it is also has a very natural feel to it with the mountain behind trees everywhere.
After a walk of some distance along a road climbing a hill, you come to the largest set of buildings in the Secret Garden, Juhamnu, with a beautiful pond that includes a small island with trees. The royal libraries were housed here.
The garden is very large (78 acres), so the tour will take several hours, and includes a number different buildings, ponds, and a lot of walking amongst the beautiful trees.
I love the trees in Korea. They tend look much more delicate than trees in the US and the leaves of the maple trees in particular are so beautiful!
Biwon has a lot of beautiful flowers as well. Korea irises such as this one are also more delicate.
The colors of the palace buildings are all incredibly vibrant.
I had to take a picture of the ceiling of this pavilion and its dragons. Look at those colors!
After finishing our tour of Biwon, we returned to the palace. Above is a picture of the Changdeokgung throne. It’s good to be the king (especially with a garden like Biwon)!
It’s always been summer when I visited Changdeokgung. I really have to visit in spring and autumn to see the different colors then!
This was my seventh trip to Korea, and I come to Changdeokgung every time I visit. There is a lot more to the palace structures than I included here. If you visit Seoul, it is an absolute must see; just be sure you can see Biwon as well. The tours are limited to 50 people at a time, are the only way you can access Biwon, and only run a couple of times a day, so it’s important to plan ahead.