Because Nate and I had never been to Seoul, nor did we know anyone who lives there- we called our travel agent to book us some tours while we were there. Today, I’m sharing some of the most impressive sights which are the buddhist temples and the imperial palaces.
On our Gangnam Tour, we were taken to Bongeunsa, which is the largest temple within the city limits. It’s right across the street from the COEX exhibition center, and we were fortunate that they had an event going on, so there were lanterns strung all over.
One of the most impressive things at Bongeunsa, is this gigantic Buddha statue. It’s towering presence is very humbling.
During our full day tour, we were able to experience the Jogyesa Temple, which the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Also, very humbling. While it is a tourist destination, it is also a working temple, so there were many people at prayer as we walked around.
The temple grounds also housed many lotus plants, but most were unfortunately without blooms.
A small Buddha out front where people have made offerings. The grounds and courtyard were simply stunning, with structures and lanterns hung in the ancient trees.
The interior of the main temple is breathtaking. There are three enormous golden Buddha statues in the main temple area, and smaller shrines and areas all over. Every detail is incredible. We were not expecting to see such an elaborate temple, and it felt like such a privilege to walk through as people prayed.
After the temple, we were taken to the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was the main imperial palace in Seoul. We were taken to the enormous Gwanghwamun Gate which walls around the palace grounds, and we arrived just in time to see the changing of the guards.
Growing up, I had a book with this image. I was looking around with my camera for images to shoot, and all of a sudden, there it was. It was a startling and thankful moment for me to get to see this view firsthand.
The changing of the guard ceremony is very colorful, and quite elaborate.
After the ceremony ends, they allow people a very short window to take photos with the guards, before they assume their active duty. Yes, Nate matched the guard.
Me in front of the Geunjeongmun (Gate).
Nate and me at the main palace Geunjeongjeon on the Yeongjegyo (Bridge).
The inner throne room. Isn’t it magnificent?
The palace is so incredible, because you can look back and see the modern skyscrapers of the city surrounding it. Very surreal.
Another stunning interior view. There are a lot of color motifs and architectural similarities to the Forbidden City in Beijing. We learned that this palace was built before the Forbidden City, but much of this palace’s grounds were destroyed during the Japanese occupation, but some of it has been restored.
Taking in a serene moment at the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion. I wish with all my heart that I could see this during the cherry blossom season. I can’t imagine how lovely it would be then!
A quick peek into the queen’s chambers. The wall murals were elegant and lovely.
We ended the palace tour at the National Folk Museum. On the grounds was a small courtyard with the Chinese Zodiac. Pictured is me with mine (1982 Year of the Dog) and Nate’s (1983 Year of the Pig).
The do not allow you to visit, but this is the Blue Palace, where the president resides.
More to come soon!