Changdeokgung Palace is one of the most enduring spiritual places in all of South Korea. It is one of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, which also include Gyeongbok Palace and Deoksugung Palace, that were constructed during the Joseon Dynasty. Changdeokgung Palace, which literally translates as Palace of Prospering Virtue is also commonly referred to as Changdeok Palace. It coexists in perfect harmony with the large park in which it is located in Jongno-gu. This is perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of this site, namely that the architecture and design of the entirety of the property is integrated with the natural landscape and topography. When it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997, this very harmonization with the natural surroundings was noted as the key element that set it apart as an extraordinary example Eastern architecture and design.
Changdeokgung Palace was unfortunately nearly completely decimated during the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1592. This was the case for all Five Grand Palaces in Seoul. Currently, only about 30 percent of the structures at this palace in Seoul remain. The palace was eventually rebuilt in 1609 by King Seonjo. It faced a serried of travails and more fires in the years to come however. What is left has been exceptionally well preserved and humanity is certainly better off for not having lost the entirety of this wonder of modern architecture and design. During the time that Changdeok Palace was being constructed, there was a lot of strife between the three kingdoms of Korea who were jockeying for power and legitimacy at the time (circa late 1300s). Changdeokgung was actually the second of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul to be constructed, behind Gyeongbokgung. The construction of the palace commenced in 1405 and was completed around 1412.
There are thirteen constructs left on the grounds at the Changdeok Palace and 28 garden pavilions. The land on which the palace is located occupies about 110 acres of gorgeous land. Donhwamun Gate is one of the major attractions at Changdeokgung. It is the main palace gate that was constructed in 1412. It was fully restored to its original luster around the year 1610 after the Japanese were expelled. Geumcheongyo Bridge is the also located on the tranquil grounds and is the oldest bridge in all of Seoul. There are also several impressive halls located at Changdeok Palace. The four most notable of the palace halls are Injeongjeon, Seonjeongjeon, Huijeongdang, and Daejojeon. It is interesting to note that the last emperor of Korea lived at Changdeokgung until his death in 1926.
Another major attraction is the nearly 80-acre garden that is situated behind the lovely palace. The perfectly manicured grounds are home to over 100 varieties of tree species and feature myriad flowers and other fauna. When you visit this spiritual place in Seoul you will have the ability to walk around the serene lotus pond, meander through the gardens, and basically just allow yourself to be rejuvenated by communing with nature is such an effortlessly beautiful place. If you are planning a trip to South Korea and are staying in one of the hotels in Seoul, this is an attraction that should top your list of places to visit.