Palaces of the Joseon era
The Joseon dynasty that started approximately 600 years ago, set Seoul as its capital and built several palaces in order to back up the country’s management.
There are 5 palaces remain in Seoul today: Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung and Gyeonghuigung.
These palaces symbolize and represent Korea, and among them, Changdeokgung together with Jongmyo Shrine are registered as the World Heritage of UNESCO and receiving the world’s attention.
During the Joseon era, Gwanghwamun was the main entrance of Gyeongbokgung and in front of it, there was Yukjo-geori, or the Street of Six Ministries on both sides of the street.
The best Hanyang road leading to the palace lost its meaning as the time passes by, but the road re-opened in August 2009.
The Gwanghwamun Plaza is the intersection of Sejong-ro and Cheonggye Plaza, and there is a statue of the King Sejong which represents creativity and spirit of pragmatism and also a statue of the Admiral Yi.
The Bukchon Hanok village is located in between the Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces, and as it’s located in the upper part or the northern part of Cheonggyecheon and Jongno, this traditional Hanok area in Seoul is called ‘Bukchon’ (‘北村‘ or the North Village). The place was the living area for the royal family or senior government officials in the past.
The Cheonggyecheon River, which is 10.84km in length and is crossing across the city center of Seoul, was once covered and used as a road, but it was restored in 2005.
At the Cheonggyecheon River, there is the Cheonggye Plaza which is the center of various cultural events and also a selection of 8 Cheonggye sceneries. Moreover, the Cheonggyecheon River provides various sightseeing attractions including a variety of trees, plants and animals, as well as a nature-friendly ecosystem.
Sungnyemun (also known as Namdaemun)
The Sungnyemun, the very first national treasure of the country, was built in 1396 together with the Hanyang Castle, as the south/main gate of the city. It is the largest gate of the Korean castles remaining, and also the oldest wooden building in Seoul still existing and the Joseon people were proud of it
Seoul Fortress Tour
The Seoul Fortress Wall, which surrounds Seoul, is 18.2km in length that connects Bukaksan, Naksan, Namsan and Inwangsan, and is a proud cultural heritage that protected Seoul from foreign invasion over 600 years.
As the gates for the Seoul Fortress, Sungnyemun, Gwanghwamun, Heunginjimun, Hyehwamun, Sukjeongmun and Changuimun are still remaining.
National Museum of Korean Contemporary History
Location : Sejong-ro, Jongno-gu
The ‘National Museum of Korean Contemporary History’ is Korea’s first national museum of modern and contemporary history and it was built by remodeling the old building of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, which was located in Sejong-ro, Jongno-gu. The museum exhibits more than 1,500 materials from the opening of the country up to now
Also, at the museum, you can receive a guidance using the latest technology such as display guides through the QR code. As the overall historical and cultural space, the museum provides a variety of educational and cultural programs, and approaching to the public.
Seoul Museum of History
Location : Saemunan, Jongno-gu
At the Seoul Museum of History, there are permanent exhibitions showing the roots of Seoul and people’s life, and the changing process into the modern Seoul, as well as a variety of features that testify Seoul’s history and culture. There is also a variety of experiential classes and cultural events for both children and adults.
Tteok (Rice Cake) Museum
Location : Waryongdong, Jongno-gu
At the Tteok Museum, there are exhibitions and experiential educational programs that display various cooking utensils and how to make Tteok (rice cake), which is deeply related to the life of Korean people
Beautiful Tea Museum
Location : Insadong, Jongno-gu
The museum possesses and displays various relics related to tea and there is also a gallery where you can meet the artworks of young artists. You can also enjoy more than 110 variations of tea from all over the world.
National Folk Museum of Korea
Location : Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu
The National Folk Museum of Korea is aiming for an alive educational space where you can actually see and experience the lifestyle of Korean people from the days in the traditional society up to today.
Insadong streets of Traditional Culture
The very first place where the foreigners coming to Korea might visit in order to peek into Korean culture is Insadong, which is better known as ‘Mary’s alley.’
The place is popular among the foreigners as the streets have the most Korean-style atmosphere. On both sides of the main street, there are many art shops and antique shops. Galleries started to gather in Insadong in the 1970s. As the first commercial gallery in Korea, ‘Hyundai Hwalang’ (now ‘Gallery Hyundai’ in Sagandong) opened, full-scale commercialization of art has begun in the country.
In particular in 1974, when heavy taxation measures against antiques and false antique incidents occurred, many antique shops closed the door and galleries took place instead. After the 1980s, specialized galleries dealing with contemporary art opened the door one after another.
As the already existing antique shops and contemporary art galleries started to gather in Insadong, it began to form a museum belt leading to Sogyeok-dong and Samcheong-dong. Insadong is most crowded on Wednesdays and on weekends, normally because exhibitions open on Wednesdays and visitors increase on weekends.
Kyung-in Museum of Fine Art
Rather than a museum, ‘Kyung-in Museum of Fine Art’ is more like a friendly neighborhood house, and unlike the other art museums in Insadong that have a neat appearance and orderly atmosphere, this museum has the first, the second and the third exhibition space, as well as a spacious outdoor garden, a café, an art shop and a traditional tea house where the place mixes beautifully with trees. While aiming for the ‘art for human beings,’ the museum is trying to be natural and friendly as much as possible, so that it tries hard to exclude artificial feels. The ‘Kyung-in Museum of Fine Art’ is one of the galleries that Japanese tourists visit the most.
The Hanok buildings that have a traditional Korean feels, small ponds that blends naturally with them and also the trees display a high-level Korean traditional garden that as if no other exhibitions are necessary there. The Hanok buildings that have a traditional Korean feels, small ponds that blends naturally with them and also the trees display a high-level Korean traditional garden that as if no other exhibitions are necessary there.
Because it is a lot different from somewhat artificial gardens in Japan, Japanese tourists find it more attractive. The place is highly recommended to all the visitors visiting Insadong as the museum is trying hard to excavate young artists of both traditional art and contemporary art.