A Gloomy Day at Deoksugung Palace, Seoul, Korea

 Across the street from Seoul's City Hall, the former center of politics in Korea can be visited and experienced, rain or shine. As you can see, my visit was on a gloomy morning.
 That didn't stop the royal guards from performing their changing of the guards ceremony nice and early in the morning! Entry to the palace is through this gate, called Daehanmun. Just beyond is a very wide bridge called Geumcheongyo, over which the king's carriage would pass when going to and from the palace.
Here's a map from art-and-archaeology.com of the palace grounds, so you can reference locations when I mention them.
 The buildings around the grounds all served their own purposes.
 Inside, they're quite spacious. Walls can fold up to expand the spaces or provide for privacy.
 Some buildings are nicer than others, and the rooms which were used by the king are quite fancy.
 Unfortunately, I can't tell one building from the other. Perhaps that was done on purpose - Korean palaces are quite complex with a maze of different but similar buildings with several small courtyards and passageways. In fact, this palace might be the least complex as far as its layout. I believe this might be Deokhongjeon, one of the buildings where he would have taken care of daily business.
 There's a nice wall running through the middle of the palace grounds with several passageways; the outer wall is also noteworthy and similarly designed.
 Jeongwanheon, at the back of the grounds before passing through the wall, has quite fancy work along its facade.
 Here's a close-up.
 There is more open space in the true back portion of the grounds. Seokjojeon is a pair of buildings which now function as a pair of museums. They are obviously western designs, and one of them wasn't finished until after Japan began its occupation. The building you can't see, just to the right of the above image, was covered by scaffolding on my visit; it should now be reopened as a history museum, restored to its original glory and displaying original furniture.
 There's a European lawn/plaza in front of the two buildings, which sit at right angles to each other. You can see Junghwajeon on the other side of the fountain; Seoul City Hall is to the left in the distance.
 Across from Junghwajeon is a bell structure, called Junghwamun.
 And here is the front view of Junghwajeon. This is the main hall of the palace, where the king held his morning meetings to discuss politics. Most prominent is the king's throne.
 The stone work out front is fairly impressive, but inside is the highlight.
 Photography inside the building isn't permitted, but the throne is visible from outside. Here's a closeup of a portion of it.
And the full throne!

It snowed a lot on my first trip to Seoul, and it was quite cold, but this was possibly the ugliest day on my entire trip. Deoksugung is an important palace, that's certainly true, but the others scattered around Seoul are larger or more beautiful. It's worth seeing for the throne and the museums at the back of the property.

Tickets that include four palaces and Jongmyo Shrine can be bought for 10,000 won (about $10) and are the best value if you're going to see all of the palaces. Admission to just Deoksugung is only 1000 won (about $1).

The grounds are open 9:00-21:00, closed Monday. Take the subway to City Hall Station on Line 1 or Line 2, and use Exit 2, which puts you right in front of the main gate.

Junghwajeon is open only Saturday and Sunday, 9:00-16:00. Ceremonies for the changing of the guards are at 11:00, 14:00, and 15:30. (Note that I can't confirm this information on the Deoksugung website.)

English language tours are given Tuesday through Friday at 10:30, and Saturday (odd months) or Sunday (even months) at 13:40.

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