Changdeok Palace: The Palace of Illustrious Virtue

Seoul, Korea: Changdeok Palace 창덕궁Changdeok Palace (창덕궁), translated to mean the “Palace of Illustrious Virtue”, was the principal palace for many of the Joseon kings and sitting just up the street from the more famous Gyeongbuk Palace, it warrants a visit any season of the year with one of the most beautiful gardens in the city.

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Designated as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, it is the most well preserved of the five remaining palaces in the city and offers up a chance for visitors to learn about tradition, architecture and Korean culture. The palace was built just after the construction of Gyeongbuk Palace in 1405 and was completed it 1412 keeping the ideas of Feng Shui in mind while at the same time harmonizing with the nature that surrounded it rather than dominating the land like the other four palaces that remain today. Seoul, Korea: Changdeok Palace 창덕궁Seoul, Korea: Changdeok Palace 창덕궁

King Taejo, the first king of the Joseon Dynasty who took his seat in 1392 had eight sons, six with his first wife and two with his second, and for this story the two sons to know are Yi Bang-Gwa who would become King Jeongjong and Yi Bang-Won who would become King Taejong. Of the eight sons, the king favored his youngest, who was neither Bang-Gwa nor Bang-Won which did not sit well with the elder princes. In 1398, Bang-Won led a coup and killed the two youngest sons from the second wife and pushed to have his older brother Bang-Gwa become the crowned prince as he was older and was intended to take the throne. Their father, disgusted, named Bang-Gwa the crowned prince and abdicated his throne to him shortly after. Yi Bang-Gwa became King Jeongjong, moved the capital from Seoul, then Hanyang, to Gaesong and all was good until just two years later when a conflict arose between Bang-Won and another one of his brothers. Bang-Won attacked his elder brother, defeated him and sent him into exile with his family. King Jeongjong seeing this, named his younger brother Bang-Won the crown prince and realizing that he was leading from the former capital, abdicated his throne to his brother just two years after he’d become king.Seoul, Korea: Changdeok Palace 창덕궁

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Seoul, Korea: Changdeok Palace 창덕궁

Once King Taejong took over power, the capital city of Seoul, then Hanyang, was restored and King Taejong moved into Changdeok Palace instead of the primary Gyeongbuk Palace. This was done due to the fact that he had had his half brothers killed on the grounds of Gyeongbuk and the palace had been built by one of his original rivals. All in all, a bad history made Changdeok Palace look like a more pleasant place to reside. King Taejong ended up reigning for eighteen years, far longer than the two years of his brother and the six years of his father. Ultimately, Changdeok Palace served as the main seat of the dynasty for more than 250 years and saw some thirteen kings walk through its gates.Seoul, Korea: Changdeok Palace 창덕궁

Though the palace was later burnt down by an angry mob of citizens in 1592 when the royal family fled to escape from the Japanese Invasion, it was rebuilt and restored in 1611 only to be burnt down once again in 1623 during a political revolt against King Injo. The palace was later attacked by Manchu Qing but, each time the palace was rebuilt and restored, the original design was kept in tact. The garden that sits behind the palace is the largest draw for visitors and ever since it was established during the reign of King Taejong, the powers that be have tried to keep it as natural as possible. Because of this, only tours allow visitors to walk through the Secret Garden to preserve the original sanctity of the area.Seoul, Korea: Changdeok Palace 창덕궁

Changdeok Palace was the site of the royal court and the main seat of government up until 1868 and the last Emporer of Korea, Sunjong, resided in the palace until his death in 1926. Though Gyeongbuk Palace is seen as the more formidable and dominating palace in the city, Changdeok Palace has just as much, if not more, to say historically and is revered as the more beautiful palace to visit.

Changdeokgung Palace


서울특별시 종로구 와룡동 2-71

2-71 Waryong-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea


Subway: Anguk Station, exit 3. Walk straight for a couple blocks and the palace will become visible on the left.

Bus: 109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272, 7025

Days: Open everyday except for Mondays.

Hours: (Last ticket purchase available 1 hour before closing for the regular tour and 2 hours before closing for the Secret Garden.)

Changdeok Palace:

February ~ May & September – October: 9:00am – 6:00pm

June ~ August: 9:00am – 6:30pm

November ~ January: 9:00am – 5:30pm

The Secret Garden: (by guided tour only)

February ~ May & September – October: 10:00am – 5:30pm

June ~ August: 10:00am – 6:00pm

November ~ January: 10:00am – 4:30pm


General Tours: Adult: W3,000; Youth (age 7-18): W1,500

Secret Garden Tours: Adult: W8,000; Youth: W5,500

Children 6 years old and under, Seniors over 65 and every month on the last Wednesday there is free admission. (This does not include the Secret Garden.)


General Tours: Takes 1 hour

Korean: March ~ October: 9:30am , 11:30am , 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm; November ~ February: 9:30am , 11:30am , 1:30pm, 3:30pm

English: 10:30am & 2:30pm

Japanese: 12:30pm

Chinese: 10:00am

The Secret Garden Guided Tours: Takes 90 minutes. There are only 100 tickets available for these tours. 50 tickets can be booked in advance online while 50 tickets will be held for walk-ups and are sold at the ticket office on the day.

Korean: Throughout the year there are 6 to 9 tours a day generally starting on the hour from 10:00am throughout the year.

English: February ~ October: 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm; November ~ January: 11:30am & 1:30pm

Japanese: 10:30am & 2:30pm

Chinese: 12:30pm

Amenities: parking, restrooms, cafe, water fountains, free wheelchair rental, baby stroller rental


The Palace of Illustrious Virtue, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea: Changdeok Palace (창덕궁), translated to mean the "Palace of Illustrious Virtue", is touted as a beauty in every season. This Korean palace in Seoul is a must-see and the Secret Garden is NOT to be missed!

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3 Responses

  1. May 23, 2016

    […] palace is quaint and not nearly as colorful as the others. The wood has not been painted the colorful hues of green, red and yellows like the grander palaces but that means this one is just a little different and just a little special that […]

  2. September 27, 2016

    […] is the area located between Gyeongbukgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. The area consists of Gahoe-dong, Songhyeon-dong, Anguk-dong, Samcheong-dong and Jae-dong and once […]

  3. September 30, 2016

    […] This may be the BEST season to really enjoy the stunning Changdeokgung Palace Secret Garden (창덕궁 비원 or 후원). Once known as the Forbidden Garden, it is now open to the public and provides some stunning views with over 300 different types of trees and other flora and fauna on the grounds, there’s something to see at every turn and this is in addition to the exquisite palace that already adds bursts of color, too! There are only 100 tickets sold per tour hour to see the Secret Garden to preserve the grounds, so get their early to get your tickets to the stunning Changdeokgung Palace and grounds. […]

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