Changdeokgung: A Snowy Secret Garden in Seoul, Korea

Each palace in Seoul has something special. The architecture is generally the same, with similar styles of painting to go with it. A ruler certainly wouldn't get homesick while staying in a different palace! But finding the little (or big) differences that makes each palace special is part of the fun.
 Changdeokgung is your typical palace as far as the buildings go, with a massive maze of one-floor structures.
 There are a few impressive buildings, such as the throne room.
 High ceilings with lots of decorative touches tells you that you're in the presence of royalty.

 Many of the other rooms the royal family used are well-decorated too.

 There's a nice courtyard around the back, with a palace wall not far beyond.

 The buildings are rectangular and generally long but narrow. I am assuming that helped facilitate air flow in hotter months and the under-floor heating circulation in cooler months.
 Architectural details in windows, doors, and the roofing tiles are worth noticing as well as the big picture.
 The palace itself is quite grand, but on a guided tour you can explore the secret garden around back, just beyond that wall.
 Garden is an understatement, of course. The grounds are expansive and beautiful; it's a large, naturally-styled park with some choice landscaping additions.
 There are several pavilions for relaxing next to ponds or streams.
 I believe passing through the stone arch brought eternal youth. Yes, I passed through it. No, I doubt I'll live forever.

 The garden was a place to escape and relax, but I recall being told that the prince would also study back here. I could totally go for that.
 Leaving the pavilions and secret garden behind, there's also a large, old tree which I found quite elegant.
Changdeokgung is open at 9:00 year round, closing between 17:00 and 18:30 depending on the time of year. The Huwon (secret garden) has guided tours starting at 10:00. The palace and garden are closed on Mondays.

English tours of the palace (60 minutes) are at 10:30 and 14:30, though you can wander the grounds on your own. Huwon tours in English (90 minutes) are at 11:30, 13:30, and 15:30. This may change; be sure to check Changdeokgung's website (English) before your visit.

Admission to the palace is 3000 won ($3), with an additional 5000 won charge for the garden; I think it's certainly worth the added fee. Keep in mind that a combination ticket to all four palaces and Jongmyo Shrine is 10,000 won ($10) and includes Huwon (the secret garden). I'm not sure how it works, so ask for details, though it should be good for a full month from the date of purchase.

From Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) take exit 3 and walk straight for five minutes. Or from Jongno3(sam)-ga Station (Subway Lines 1, 3, or 5) take exit 6 and walk straight on Donhwamun-ro for ten minutes.

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