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창경궁 (昌慶宮)

185 Changgyeonggung-ro, Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
| +82 2-762-4868
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Looking over the locked gate Seoul  South Korea

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Tue - Sun 9am - 5:30pm

Looking over the locked gate

The website said that Changgyeong-gung Palace was closed on Tuesdays. So on this particular drizzly Monday, (my last day in Seoul), I trekked over, planning on revisiting this site of a childhood outing...But when I arrived, the 400-year-old gates were locked--"Closed on Mondays!"

The drizzle was turning into a downpour; across the street I noticed an inviting lobby--shelter from the rain in Seoul Nat'l University's new Cancer Hospital...I then noticed, through the glass façade, that there was a café on an upper floor...and then once I got up there, I found out that there was a rooftop garden terrace. And so I fumbled with my umbrella, trying to balance it while not getting my iPhone wet--and I got this shot of the public courtyards and throne hall of Chang-gyeong Palace.

(So, sometimes, even when the gates to memory are locked, you can still peer over them.)

This was never one of the major palaces of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), but the site dates back to the previous Goryeo dynasty (918-1392), when a summer villa stood here. During the Japanese Occupation, this palace was 'demoted' from 'gung'(palace)-status to 'won'(garden)-status. Botanical gardens, and later even a zoo and kiddie rides were installed on the grounds; this was still the case when I was a child, looking at animals and going on the rides.

Since then, the palace has been restored, and while it's not as impressive as some of the other royal enclaves in Seoul, the grounds are green and tranquil.