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When you arrive in Deoksugung Palace, you’re leaving the busy streets of Seoul, Korea, and entering a tranquil world defined by ancient tradition. The palace has long been a fixture for locals and visitors alike, thanks to its extraordinary architecture, rich history, and colorful guardsmen.
A tour of Deoksugung Palace will reveal its origins. Built during the Joseon Dynasty, Deoksugung Palace did not actually start out as a proper palace. It was originally constructed as the residence of a royal relative, but in 1592 it became a haven for King Seonju after all his other palaces in Seoul were destroyed by the Japanese. Over the centuries, Deoksugung Palace has been inhabited sporadically; starting in the 1600s, it was largely abandoned until 1897, when it was again utilized full-time by the royal family.
A major part of Deoksugung Palace sightseeing is the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. Guards glad in brilliant gold and purple uniforms perform this ceremony as they switch shifts three times a day. This coincides with the opening and shutting of the Daehanmun Gate, and is also accompanied by performances on musical instruments. Once the Changing of the Guard Ceremony is complete, guards will often pose for photographs with visitors, so make sure you’ve got your camera handy.
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