Thursday, February 16, 2012


After exiting from Changdeokgung's main entrace, I headed in a generally southeasterly direction (more south than east) according to some directions given by a local as to the location of Jongmyo, the royal shrine. You probably won't go wrong once you hit a giant wall that keeps going on and on - that's the wall that surrounds Jongmyo. As it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, most of the shops were closed enroute to the shrine.

There was an interesting building along the way with the tiled roof usually seen at palaces or temples.

This was the main entrance to Jongmyo. Unlike the palaces in Seoul, Jongmyo is not actually open for viewing at your leisure.  Tours are offered regularly in various languages (I think there's at least 1 English tour each hour) with a guide taking you around the compound. I suspect the reason for this is to make sure the utmost respect is accorded to the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty.

The serenity and solemnity of Jongmyo can be felt immediately in the quiet surroundings.

Part of the tour involved sitting in a room to watch a fifteen minute video about the elaborate rituals that occur during a memorial ceremony. This involves the king leading a huge procession and offering wine to the spirits. This is followed by an offering of food to the spirits before sharing food and wine with the ceremony participants.  Some of the utensils used in the rituals are shown here.

After the video presentation, we head over to the main shrine.

The shrine was built in 1394 under King Taejo and was gradually expanded to house more memorial tablets of later kings and queens. As the original complex was burnt down by Japanese invaders, the current shrine was reconstructed in the early 1600s.

Supposedly, with 19 rooms, this is one of the longest buildings in Asia.

Each year, an elaborate performance of ancient court music is conducted on the premises exactly as it would have been done hundreds of years ago. If you're thinking about heading to Seoul around the first Sunday in May, this would definitely be something worth considering going to.

Next, we headed over to Yeongnyeongjeon, the Hall of Eternal Comfort, which was part of the expansion of the complex under the reign of King Sejong.

Took one last shot of the serene pool and landscape before heading off to Deoksugung, another royal residence.

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