South Korea

Seoul: Gwanghamun Gate, Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gwanghwamun is the main and largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. As a landmark and symbol of Seoul’s long history as the capital city during the Joseon Dynasty, the gate has gone through multiple periods of destruction and disrepair.

Gwanghwamun was first constructed in 1395 as the main gate to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main and most important royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty.

During the 1592 Japanese Invasion, it was destroyed by fire and left in ruins for over 250 years.

The Korean war completely destroyed the wooden structure of Gwanghwamun, and its stone base lay in complete disrepair and neglect. In 1963, during Park Chung-hee’s administration, the stone base was again relocated in front of the Japanese Governor General Building.

The destroyed wooden structure was rebuilt in concrete and remained like this until late 2006. Gwanghwamun underwent a major restoration project since December 2006 and was finished in August 2010.

The gate was disassembled and moved back to its original location 14.5 meters to the south, and its wooden structure was again reconstructed in wood. It was rotated in order to accurately place the gate to its original location, which perfectly aligning it with the main north-south axis of Gyeongbokgung Palace.

When we visited the arched gate we were amazed by its two-storey gate tower and the three arched gates – and as it was 3.30pm we came right in time for the changing of the guards.

This was amazing to watch – and even more to watch the palace guards.

All young guys, sweating like hell (but not moving) with beards that were glued on.

They did not smile or move, but were just beautiful to look at with their colourful dresses.

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