Saturday, December 1, 2018

Attractions in Seoul (Seoul Trip Day 3)

There are many places to go in Seoul. We took a day trip by foot, starting from Seoul Station, to Deoksugong to Seoul City Plaza, Cheonggyecheon Stream, and Myeongdong. Gwanghwamun Plaza, Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung and Bukhon, and Namdaemun Market are located in vicinity as well.

Deoksugung was originally built as residence of royal family members. It was used temporarily as ruling palace after Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung were burnt by Japanese during Imjin War in 1592. Deoksugung resumed its role as auxiliary palace after the migration of the King to Changdeokgung after Changdeokgung was fully restored in 1618. The royal family resided in Deoksugung until early 1900s. 

Deoksugung is located right beside Seoul MRT Station. We found that the ceremony of changing royal guards at Deoksugung was far more interesting and extensive compared to the ceremony at Gyeongbokgung.

The entrance of Deoksugong. The ceremony of changing royal guards starts at 11 am. The ceremony is repeated on 2 pm and 3:30 pm.

The ceremony of changing the royal guards is more extensive and informative. The narration was conducted in both English and Korean languages. Live music was played by royal musicians. The whole ceremony takes around 30 minutes. As the ceremony attracts many visitors, we need to be early to get a good place to see the whole ceremony. The best spot- location facing the center of the gate.

Seoul City Plaza 
City Plaza is located in front of the Seoul City Hall. The plaza is huge, fills with beautiful flowers and a big signage of "I Seoul U". There were exhibitions ongoing during our visit. We found stalls selling local fruits and food, such as apple, chestnut, seaweed, kimchi, tea, coffee, and many more. We tried several free samples given there.

The big signage of "I Seoul U" facing the main road.

The plaza is nicely decorated with flowers (upper left) and alleys with shrubs (upper right). We visited some exhibitions there (lower right). We saw a confrontation between police and demonstrators there as well.

City Library and City Hall 
City Library and City Hall are located beside City Plaza. Actually, both buildings are beautiful, but they look odd to be built in close distance to each other.

The City Library is the old brick building, while Seoul City Hall is the futuristic building behind the library.

City hall is a beautiful futuristic building.

Cheonggyecheon Stream
The stream is located beside Cheonggyecheon-ro. It is around 150 meters away from Seoul City Hall. The stream flows around 8.4 km across Seoul and ends at Jungnangcheong. The stream was once dirty and polluted. An effort to cleanse and beautify the stream was carried out in 2003, and had successfully transformed the stream into a recreational park, as what we could see today. 

Cheonggyecheon stream in the middle of the city.

There are bridges for us to cross to another side of the stream (upper left). We visited the stream where the lanterns were displayed. It was the 10th anniversary of the lantern festival there (upper right). The art piece, "Spring" was designed by two Swedish American artists Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg (lower right). The stream is located at the busiest area in Seoul. We can see high rises at the surrounding area.

Gwanghwamun Plaza
The plaza is a happening place in Seoul. Korean Food Festival was held there during our visit. The plaza is surrounded by government buildings, eateries, museums and art centers. The plaza is located just in front of Gwanghwamun, so it will be the best if we visit it after Gyeongbokgung. 

The plaza is around 500 meters north from Deoksugung and City Hall. It is 200 meters away from Cheonggyecheon. In case you are too tired to walk around the plaza on the same day you visit Gyeongbokgung, you can go there another day when you are visiting Deoksugung and Cheonggyecheon.

The Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin was built in 1968. The Admiral was famous for his victories against the Japanese during Imjin War. He won all his battles without losing any of his ship in the war.  

King Sejong was the fourth king of Joseon Dynasty. The statue was built in 2009. King Sejong is the most popular king in Joseon Dynasty, who has been remembered for the invention of hangul (Korean alphabet).

Myeongdong is the most happening area in Seoul. It consists of several streets around Myeongdong area. It can be reached from different MRT stations, including Myeongdong Station (Line 4), Seoul Station (Line 1), and Eulji-ro Stations (Line 2). It is the best place to buy skin care, cosmetics, and souvenirs. We can find many eateries, stalls selling street food, coffee houses, shops selling clothes and IT gadgets, and many others as well. Underground market as well.

We found Avenue of the Star at the entrance of Lotte Departmental Store is quiet interesting (upper left). When we put our hand on the hand print of a celebrity (upper right), the image of the celebrity will appear at the screen next to the hand print. Myeongdong street is busy during daytime (lower right), and gets even busier at night.

We saw some interesting promoters in special animal costumes with billboards promoting their special cat cafe (upper left) and dog cafe (upper right). Of course, Line friend shop with a huge Line bear in Myeongdong as well (upper right). We could find different promotions and prices on the same skincare and cosmetic products, from street to street. So if we are not in a hurry, compare the prices from different outlets can help us to buy a product at cheaper price.

Myeongdong Cathedral was built in 1898. It is a beautiful building located in Myeongdong. 

Myeongdong Theater was built in 1937. It was the national theater of Korea. The building is hard to miss as it is located at the middle of Myeongdong shopping streets.

Namdaemun and Namdaemun Market
Namdaemun was built using stones and wood in 1398, and rebuilt in 1447. The name Namdaemun indicated the location of the gate on the south of Seoul old city. The gate was one of the major entrance to the enclosed city. The wooden pagoda on the top of the stone structure remained as the oldest wood structure in Seoul until it was burnt in 2008. The wooden pagoda structure was fully restored in 2013 using the fund raised via public donation.

Namdaemun Market is not far from Myeongdong. It is located nearby Hoehyeon MRT Station, or we can take 10 minutes walk from either Seoul of Myeongdong Station. Namdaemun is one of the oldest running market in Korea, and it is the largest retail market in Seoul. We like Namdaemun in the way that the market is well-organized with similiar products are sold on the same street.

Namdaemun City Gate nearby the market. The wooden structure was restored in 2013, with a little bit of old city wall attached to the gate.

Street with snacks and stalls (upper left), souvenirs (upper right), restaurants (lower right) and bags.

Seoul is a city that we can easily move around using the MRT system. However, we can opt to walk around the city as well, in order to see the scenery above the ground. What we need to do is getting a map of the MRT and start planning. 

We stayed in Guro, a residential area few stations away from Seoul. We will share more about food, accommodation, transportation and shopping around Seoul

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