map of Gyeongbokgung palace
source: Gyeongbokgung palace (modified)


Seoul, Korea

Gyeongbokgung is the earliest, largest, and far and away the most "Chinese" of the five great Joseon palaces in Seoul. It was built in 1394 by Taejo, the first Joseon king; destroyed in the Japanese invasions of 1592-1598; reconstructed in 1867; abandoned in 1895 after the assassination of Empress Myeonseong by Japanese agents; demolished during the Japanese occupation (1910-1945); and rebuilt starting in 1989.

The palace occupies 100 acres, bounded by a wall and four outer gates (A-D). The Japanese government headquarters was built in the area of Heungnyemun Gate (1) during the occupation, but has now been destroyed. The National Palace Museum (E) and National Folk Museum (F) are currently located on the grounds. The National Museum of Korea was formerly located on the grounds, but now moved to Yongsan-gu. The palace itself begins with a formal enclosure and plaza leading to the Throne Room (1-5). Behind this are the King's Quarters (12) and Queen's Quarters (17), which are located across from the Royal Banquet Hall (19). The rear area of the palace includes private gardens, shrines, pavilions, residences, and the Royal Library (26).