Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden

Changdeokgung Palace was the second royal palace built after Gyeongbukgung Palace in 1405. However it became the principal palace for many kings of the Joseon Dynasty, and is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal Joseon palaces.

Being a huge fan of medieval and old historical sites and palaces, I was of course excited and thrilled to be visiting it though I cannot really say the same for my younger daughter who probably found it boring….

Anyway, some basics you should know before visiting….:

Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99 (와룡동)

Admission Fee:
Regular Tour (Changdeokgung Palace)-Adults 3,000 won/Children 1,500 won
Secret Garden Tour (Secret Garden area)
Adults 5,000 won/Children 2,500 won

Or to save more, just get the Royal Palace Pass for just 10,000 won which enables ou to visit any or all palaces within 3 months and the Secret Garden… this is what I bought for my girls and me….

How to Get There:

Anguk Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 3. Walk straight along the main road for about 5 mins and you will see the palace on your right…

Changdeokgung palace consist of a public palace area, the royal family residence building, and the secret rear garden.  Changdeokgung translates to be “the Palace of Illustrious Virtue”

The palace started becoming  important  from King Seongjong, the 9th king of Joseon’s rule and since then, a number of kings began using it as a place of residence. Sadly, the palace was burned down by angry citizens in 1592 when the royal family fled their abode during the Japanese invasion of Korea before getting restored in 1611.

Enter through the imposing gate Donhwamun . Dating from 1608 it is the largest such entrance among Seoul’s four main palaces.

Turn right and you’ll cross over a stone bridge (built in 1414, thus the oldest such surviving bridge in the city) – note the guardian animals carved on its sides.

On the left is the beautiful main palace building, Injeongjeon . It sits in harmony with the paved courtyard, the open corridors and the trees behind it.

The royal walkway and courtyard, dating back to 1609, can be seen in front of the hall.

On this walkway are stone markers inscribed with ranks of court officials. Court officials are supposed to stand behind their designated stone marker when meeting with the king. Higher ranked officials will be the one standing closest to the king while lower ranked officials would naturally stand furthest from the king.

There are two huge iron pots outside the main palace building, on the far end of each side…These are actually bronze censers . It was said that whenever the king sat on the throne for official functions, incense sticks were burned in these censers…

A view of the magnificent Injeongjun from the corner……

A view inside Injeongjun…..Injeongjun is translated to be “the Hall of Benevolent Government”

If you are pondering on the lights at the pillars, so was I.. apparently electricity was installed here in this place in 1908…

Seonjeong Hall here is said to be the working office of the king and his officials and it is the only structure here at Changdeokgung where the roof is blue glazed, said to be very expensive back in those times…

The folding screen behind the throne is a Joseon royal screen. It depicts the sun (king) and moon (queen), mountains, waterfalls, and pine trees. And this picture can be seen on  the front of the  10,000  won note as well….

There is also the Huijeongdang Hall which is the king’s residence/ bedroom and also the Daejojeon hall, the queen’s residence….

Though do not ask me which is which as I could only memorize two places… and everything else was in a flurry… lol but well, enjoy the pictures I am sharing below….

I found it very fascinating how houses back in those times even had under the floor heating using charcoals and furnaces and chimneys.. no wonder people wore socks and slept on the floor…

Nakseonjae Hall is a one-storey structure built in ikgong style (bird wing-shaped eaves placed on top of the pillars) with a hip tiled and gable roof. It was said to be built by King Heonjeong, the 24th king of Joseon for his beloved concubine in 1846…

Nakseonjae also served as King Heonjong’s study, or sarangchae. The interior is decorated with colorful lattice work.

This is part of the Changgyeongung palace which can be accessed through the Changdeokgung palace as well…but after touring Changdeokgung twice, once on our own and another time with the official Changdeokgung tour guide who spoke excellent English, and the one and a half hour tour in the Secret rear Garden… I surrendered….

To see the palace’s lovely Secret Garden, there is a tour that run at about 11.30am and 1.30pm. Be sure to be there early as the Secret Garden tour is only restricted to about 50 people at a time.

But seriously, in my opinion it should have been called the Secret Forest since it is huge… and hardly a small garden….Even the tour will take about 1 and a half hours from start to finish and be prepared to walk…. a lot.. LOL as you will be going up and down stairs and straw pathways…

The first place we came across was a lovely square pond with the Eosumun Gate leading to an impressive two story Juhamnu Pavilion, that was once a library and reading room during the reign of King Jeongjo. It was said to be constructed in 1776 during the first year of the reign of King Jeongjo.

The secret garden is most magnificently landscaped with a lovely terraces planted with lawns, flowering trees, flowers, a lotus pool and pavilions set against a wooded background.

There are over 56,000 specimens of various species of trees and plants in the garden, including walnut, white oak, zelkova, plum, maple, chestnut, hornbeam, yew, gingko, and pine.

Waterlilies we were lucky to see.. apparently these lilies hide away and closes by noon…

Gorgeous maple leaves foliage….

The Aeryeonjeong Pavilion is a very small square pavilion located on Aeryeonji Pond. It is said to be constructed in 1692 during the reign of King Sukjong.

Jondeokjeong Pavilion is a lovely two story roof pavilion. Look at the ceiling where two dragons playing with a wish fulfilling jewel is painted there. This jewel is known as cintamani. The painting is said to be a symbol of total royal authority.

The last stop we came to before exiting the Secret Garden was the Yeongyeongdang Residence said to be built in 1828 by Crown Prince Hyomyeong.

This was a place for royal family banquets and for Jinjakrye, which was a special ceremony for his father King Sunjong. During this ceremony court officials would present food and wine to the king and queen as a sign of strong royal authority….

So I did all these tour and sightseeing of the Changdeokgung Palace and Secret Garden in about 2 1/2 to 3 hours…. so you can imagine how tired my girls were especially my younger daughter after this and so we did not manage to see other palaces as we originally planned to do on that day!!!

 And here I sign off for today as well and hope you enjoy my story and my pictures of the Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden…


14 thoughts on “Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden

  1. This Changdeokgung palaca is very big! No time enough to explore all 🙂 If we are princess from royal, we enjoy to view all beautiful garden! 😀


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