It is the largest of the ‘Five Grand Palaces‘ in Seoul, built in 1394 by King Taejo of the Joseon dynasty. It was burnt down during the Japanese invasions in 1592 and lay in ruins until it was reconstructed almost 300 years later. Having been almost completely destroyed again by the Japanese in the early 20th century parts of it are still being restored today.
It is a huge, sprawling complex of banquet halls, throne halls, shrines and royal residential quarters set against an unusual backdrop of mountains on one side and high-rise office blocks on another. My personal highlight was Gyeonghoeru, a large pavilion in the middle of an artificial, snow covered, lake which was used for state banquets. Whilst the buildings were undeniably beautiful, the grounds seemed somewhat sparse, and it was hard to see past the reconstruction and imagine it’s history.