Gyeonghuigung Palace is one of 5 Seoul places and is the smallest palace. During the Japanese invasions (1910~50), It was destroyed & dismantled a lot. It was also called “west Palace”. East Palace was Changdeokgung &Changgyeonggung Palace.
Gyeonghuigung(경희궁:慶德宮) Palace History :
During 18 centuries (from 1700s)
Gyeonghuigung Palace, designated as Historic Site No. 271, was a Yigung(spare palace) Palace in the late Joseon Dynasty. The construction began in 1617 (by the King Gwanghaegun) and was completed in 1623)It is the youngest palace among 5 Seoul palaces. There is a legend that People said there was a energy of King, therefore, King Gwanghaegun confiscated and then built a palace Gyeonghuigung Palace was originally called Gyeongdeokgung(경덕궁) Palace, but it was changed to Gyeonghuigung Palace in 1760 (the 36th year of King Yeongjo’s reign) due to the same pronunciation as the original king’s name “Gyeongdeok.
japanese colonial period( 1892~1945)
When the Japanese annexed Joseon, Gyeonghuigung was transferred to the Japanese Government General of Korea
along with Gyeongbokgung Palace. In 1907, when the Japanese built the Middle School in Gyeonghuigung Palace, most of the existing buildings were demolished as well as cutting high terrains to fill lows places. After that, even a few buildings such as Sungjeongjeon Hall, Hoesangjeon Hall, Heungjeongdang Hall, Heunghwamun Gate, and Hwanghakjeong Pavilion were sold or moved to other places and then, time went by, Korea people were getting recognized it as the ‘Gyeonghuigung Site’, meaning that there was once a palace called Gyeonghuigung here.
Gyeonghui Palace Restoration Project
After the excavation results and the examination of the historical record, the restoration project was carried out to restore the pavilion in Gyeonghui Palace. Heunghwamun Gate was restored in 1987, Sungjeongjeon Hall in 1991, Jeongjimjeon Hall and Hoerang Hall in 1998, and Taenyeongjeon Hall and its section in 2000. However, Heunghwamoon was not able to move to the original location because the Salvation Army Center was located in its original location, so it moved about 100 meters to the west and restored it.
Gyeonghuigung Palace main buildings
It is the main gate of the palace, is designated as Korea cultural property no. 19 in seoul. Originally, it was facing east of Geumcheongyo Bridge, or east of the current Salvation Army building. However, in 1932, the Japanese took off Heunghwamun Gate to use it as the main gate of Bakmunsa Temple, a shrine for Hirobumi Ito. After Korea’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule, Bakmunsa Temple was abolished and Silla Hotel was built on the site. Heunghwamun Gate was moved to Gyeonghui Palace in 1988 as part of the restoration project. The Salvation Army Building was already built on its original site, so it was relocated and restored to its current location.
Seoul Palaces would have abridge. It is a entering gate to the main gate of Gyeonghuigung Palace. This stone bridge was placed in the Geumcheon Stream before entering the palace hall. The face of the goblin carved between the stone creatures and the red-eye of the railing is symbolic to prevent the evil energy outside the palace from entering the palace. The Japanese buried what was built in 1619 (the 11th year of King Gwanghaegun’s reign), but the Seoul Metropolitan Government restored it as it is based on the old stone structures discovered through excavation in 2001.
It is the public main office where the king’s inquiries with the servants and hold the important official events such as court banquets and reaper receptions. In particular, three kings held the coronation ceremony here. This building was built in 1618 (10th year of King Gwanghaegun’s reign) in the early days of the construction of Gyeonghuigung Palace. However the Japanese sold the building to a Japanese temple in 1926 when the Japanese damaged Gyeonghuigung Palace, and it is now used as Dongguk University’s building. Sungjeongjeon Hall, located in the current location, was restored using a base stone excavated at a location confirmed by the excavation of Gyeonghui Palace. A dragon statue was installed in the inner ceiling and two dragons facing each other.
Jajeongjeon Hall 자정전(資政殿)
This building was a place where the king did official jobs such as holding meetings with his officials and holding contests. After King Sukjong’s death, it was used as a mortuary tablet and temporarily kept the royal tablets of the kings. It was built between 1617 and 20 (the 9th and 12th year of Gwanghaegun) but was damaged by Japanese colonial rule. The Seoul government decided to restore the current building in at the site confirmed through excavation. In the western part of Jajeongjeon, a stone that was presumed to have been used as the floor of the Haengrang was discovered through excavation, so it has been restored and preserved.
Taeryeongjeon was the place where the portrait were kept. It was originally a building that had no special purpose. However, in 1744 (20) when the portrait was newly painted, it was reconstructed and enshrined in 1744 (the 20th year of King Yeongjo’s reign), and it was used as a Buddhist temple after King Yeongjo’s death. The Seoul Metropolitan Government restored the temple, which had little trace left.
There were many beautiful natural scenery facilities on the site of Gyeonghuigung Palace, but only Seoam and Yeongnyeolcheon are showing the traces. This rock was called ‘Wangam (王巖)’ meaning King’s Rock, and there is a legend that King Gwanghaegun built Gyeonghuigung here because of its name. In 1708 (34th year of King Sukjong), the name was changed to ‘Seoam (瑞巖)’ meaning auspicious rock, and King Sukjong himself wrote two large letters of ‘Seoam’ and engraved it. However, the four-way stone engraved with Seoam is not handed down, but the waterways carved on the rocks tell of the old days.
How to get Gyeonghuigung Palace, location?
Seoul 5 palaces are located in a near area as like below map. There is Subway station of Gwanghuamun nearby. It is about 500m far from the exit 7 of the station. I recommend you use the google map there. If you were a early bird, you can triped 5 seoul palaces in a day.
Gyeonghuigung Palace Open time & ticket
Open time: From 09:00 ~ 18:00. Ticket fee: Free
Is It still worth visiting? It’s very quiet and peaceful place in Seoul downtown. One of My abroad friends along for the trip said we should have brought a picnic along or some books to sit and read, as no one would have bothered us there. Also right next door is the Seoul Museum of History, so it’s worth the trip to see both at one time. What is your idea about it? ^^