Sunday, July 16, 2017

Grandest of Grand Palaces in Seoul, South Korea

Having taken a break from recording details and photographs from our Asian trip to post painting tidbits, today we're back to Seoul in South Korea.  On our last day our guide took us to see one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seoul, the Gyeongbokgung Palace.  I've taken the liberty of quoting from:

"Joseon Dynasty was founded. Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace was located at the heart of newly appointed capital of Seoul (then known as Hanyang) and represented the sovereignty of the Joseon Dynasty. The largest of the Five Grand Palaces (the others being Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace), Gyeongbokgung served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty.

An effort by the Korean government has been ongoing since 1990 to rebuild and restore the buildings that were destroyed during the Japanese occupation. This 40-year restoration project aims to fully restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its original form in the next twenty years. The palace also houses the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea."

Unfortunately, our guide rushed us through so fast we barely had time to enjoy the Palace or take pictures (though I managed to do that and still - just barely - keep up).  I can't remember if I explained earlier that part if our trip to Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong coincided with Golden Week.  Some major holidays (Constitution Day, Greenery Day - like our Arbor Day, Children's Day, and depending on who you talk to Buddha's Birthday) are on consecutive days. In Japan and Korea and probably some other Asia countries as well, the entire week is a national holiday.  Tourism is very, very heavy at that time so all tourist sites are extremely crowded.  The breakneck pace through Gyeongbokgung Palace was probably set so we could miss the height of the crowds.

Anyway, for whatever reason, we hurried but still saw some wonderful buildings:

This is probably the original entrance to the compound though not the one through which tourists enter.  Our early arrival is apparent in the lack of milling crowds.

A beautifully painted ceremonial drum.  If you've been following the saga of our trip or be familiar with Japanese art, you may notice the difference in the painting style between the South Koreans and the Japanese.

Here is where the Korean designs become more noticeably unique.  Below is the interior ceiling of the archway through which we did pass:

The archway - see the painting?  Then there's also the view through - we went through many such archways leading to many such buildings.  Each building took one higher up the chain of importance until - if one was important enough himself or worthy enough - he reached the emperor.

On this set of stairs, you will also notice a charming difference in the Korean sculpture:

This beast is keeping an eye on the passers-by as they walk through an open-air sunken walkway.

This lovely lantern caught my eye in the throne room:

A favorite photograph showing all the decorated beams holding up the multi-level roof.  Notice the absence of dragons?

In the background I saw this lovely porcelain vase back in a corner in front of the porcelain lattice.  And lo, here's the dragon!

 The throne:

I should warn you; the above is just the beginning!

1 comment:

  1. WOW - so far what I've seen is stunning. I can't imagine all the work that goes into painting those beams. And it's just very beautiful!