What to See in Seoul (South Korea)

By | July 9, 2022

According to ITYPEMBA, Seoul is the capital of South Korea. People inhabited these places even before our era. On the site of the modern city, at the end of the 14th century, a small settlement of Hanyang was founded, which later turned into the main city of the Joseon state. It was surrounded by fortified walls, inside which the royal palace of Gyeong-bok was erected. From 1910 to 1942 the city was called Gyeongsong. Seoul received its current name in 1945, translated from Korean it means “capital”. Since 1948, Seoul has been the capital of the Republic of Korea and the main economic, political and cultural center of the country. Now Seoul has the status of a separate administrative unit. The city stands on the banks of the Han-gan River and is a vast agglomeration, which includes, in addition to the capital, many satellite cities.

The old city is located on the right bank of the Han-gan River. Most of Seoul ‘s historical landmarks are located here. Gyeongbok-kun Palace is the center of the Old City., which became the very first palace of the capital of the state of Joseon. Its construction began in 1394 and ended in 1395. Later, the palace was repeatedly burned and rebuilt, most of all it suffered at the beginning of the 20th century under the Japanese, when they built the governor-general’s house in its place. Restoration work in the palace began only with the proclamation of the Republic of Korea in 1948. Gyeongbok-kun is considered the largest palace in the city. Its main gate is Gwangwa-mun (1395). Two tiers were built above the gate, which served as an observation post. Gwangwa-mun has an honorary changing of the guard every hour. Of interest is the largest pavilion of the palace – Geun-jong – with the furnishings of the times of the Joseon state, intended for royal receptions. The Gyeonghoru pavilion where the king rested, the Hyangwon-jeong pavilion, is very beautiful, as well as extensive parks with ponds and gazebos. There are several museums on the territory of the palace. National Folklore Museum, the building of which is crowned with a nine-tiered pagoda. Next to the museum there are samples of the dwellings of ancient Korean villages, and inside there are objects of everyday life of Koreans, starting from ancient times. The Museum of Royal Relics exhibits items belonging to the Li Dynasty, a total of about 20,000 exhibits collected from various palaces in Seoul. Next to Gyeongbok-kun opposite its box office is the Hanbok National Clothing Museum. It works only on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Also next to the palace in the Hyoja-dong pavilion is the Museum of Gifts to the Presidents of the Republic, the collection of which is much more modest than a similar museum in North Korea.

South of Gyeongbok-kun is located Toksu-kun Palace. The palace complex includes the Daehan Gate, the Throne Room and the Audience Hall. On the territory of the palace is the Museum of Art with objects of modern fine art. There is a changing of the guard at the Daehan-mun Palace Gate three times a day. The Embassy of Russia is located not far from the Toksu-kun Palace.

Just south of Toksu-kun, until recently, there were the most ancient gates of the city and the largest gates of the country – Namdae-mun. They almost completely burned down in a fire in 2008, only the supporting pillars remained from the gate. This is where the Namdae-mun market area originates. The Namdae-mun gate was part of the Gyeonghee-kun Palace (17th century), which has a vast park on its territory. From the ancient fortress Wall in the Old Town preserved Dongdae-mun Gate. They were built in 1396, and the current gate is the result of a rebuilding in 1869. Their roof is decorated with statues of animals that, according to legend, drive out evil spirits.

To the north of Gyeongbok-kun Palace is the residence of the president of Jeongwa-dae, or, as it is also called because of the blue-tiled roof, the Blue House. The main building of Jeongwa-dae was built in 1991 in the national style. The Mugunghwa garden is very beautiful, which is located west of Chongwa-de. Hibiscus bloom here in July-October.

To the east of Gyeongbok-kun you can see the most beautiful palace in Seoul – Changdeok-kun (early 15th century). The entrance to the territory of the palace complex is carried out through the two-tiered gates of Dongwa-mun. From the 17th to the 18th century, Changdeok-kun was the main residence of the king. The last ruler of Joseon, King Sunjong, also lived here. In Changdeok-kun, the huge “secret” garden of Piwon is interesting with small rivers, lush vegetation, pavilions, gazebos and a pond in the middle. The king secretly spent his free time in the garden. On the territory of the palace is the oldest stone bridge in Seoul – Geumchon. Be sure to visit the Incheon-jeong throne room. Nine statues are lined up in front of it, which guard the entrance from evil spirits. In Incheon-jeon, the rich royal chamber of Seoncheon-jeon is interesting.

South of Changdeok-kun Palace is Changyeong-kun Palace.. The first buildings intended for the king appeared on his current territory in 1104 during the reign of Goryeo.

Moving south, passing the bridge, you will come to the royal temple-tomb of Jongmyo of the 14th century. Three parallel roads lead to the tomb. The central one is intended for the late kings and is lined with black stone, the other two are for living kings and relatives of the ruling king. Every year on the first Sunday of May, a magnificent honorary ceremony is held here. Jongmyo consists of 19 rooms, each of which contains commemorative plaques of the rulers of Joseon and their wives.

To the east of Namdae-mun Gate is the 19th-century Myeong-dong Catholic Cathedral. This is the main Catholic cathedral in South Korea.. Its height, together with the spire, reaches 45 m. The interior of the cathedral is made in the Gothic style. Here are the graves of the first preachers of Christianity in Korea.

Not far from here is the Korean House, where traditional dance shows and dinners with national cuisine are held. The buildings of the Korean House include a Korean restaurant, an ensemble performance hall, a cooking school, and a gift shop. Namsan Folk Village is located near the Korean House.. The village is an open-air ethnographic museum and covers an area of 7934 sq. m. There are 5 traditional Korean houses – hanok, and each of them was brought from different parts of the country and is typical of one of the estates that existed in antiquity. Namsan Village hosts a handicraft fair, and showcase wedding ceremonies are held here on Saturdays and Sundays. From the village, you can see the 236 m high Seoul TV Tower located to the southwest. An observation deck and a restaurant are located on its upper floors, and a park is spread around.

In the northwestern part of the Old City is the gate of Tonni-moon.. They were built in 1898 in the style of the Arc de Triomphe. The gates are made of granite, and their arch is approximately 14 m high. In the past, these gates served as the main entrance for foreign ambassadors.

Not far from Donny-mun Gate is the Sode-mun Prison Museum. At the beginning of the 20th century, a Japanese concentration camp was located in the museum building, where fighters for the independence of Korea were detained. Numerous performances of torture and basement torture chambers remind of this. The museum is located on the territory of Independence Park. In the park you can also see the “Arch of Independence”, monuments and monuments.

Also in the Old City is worth a look at the Boshin-gak building., where in ancient times there was a bell, the ringing of which opened and closed all the city gates. Now the ancient bell is kept in the National Museum, and a modern bell, similar to the ancient one, is installed on the Boshin-gak, it rings once a year on New Year’s Day. In the vicinity of the Insandong district, the largest Buddhist temple in Seoul, Chogyo-sa, is of interest.

The new city is located on the left bank of the Han-gan River. Here, next to the World Trade Center, stands the ancient Bonyn-sa monastery of the late 8th century. It is interesting because ancient Buddhist scriptures are stored here. In the western part of the New City, opposite Yoi Island, there is a huge Nyanjin fish market., which opens at 5 am and does not subside until late in the evening. At the market, you can see the most incredible marine life and taste all kinds of seafood dishes at the local restaurant. On the island of Yoi, a 63-story business center rises, the building of which is called “63”. In the business center there is an Aquarium, a restaurant and an observation deck.

Fans of educational recreation can be advised Seoul museums. The National Museum of Korea is located next to Yongsan Park. More than 11,000 exhibits are collected here, which are distributed among several collections – archaeological, historical, works of art and folk crafts. Art Gallery located between the palaces of Deoksu-kun and Gyeonghee-kun. Here, in 6 halls, the works of modern masters are presented. An extensive exhibition of paintings by the artist Chung Kyung-ja, who worked in the 40-90s of the 20th century, is interesting. To the north is the War Museum, which is dedicated to the Korean War of 1950-1953. This is the largest military museum in the world. At the entrance to the museum there is an exposition of military equipment used during the Korean War. The museum occupies 8 halls, which display samples of weapons and military equipment of past wars, weapons in service today, as well as heavy weapons from the Second World War and the Vietnam campaign. Seoul even has a Kimchi Museum. dedicated to the most popular Korean snack. The museum is located in the COEX shopping center. Be sure to go to the archaeological park Amsa-don, where the sites of primitive people were discovered. The excavated ruins date back to the sixth millennium BC. Neolithic dwellings and burial grounds from the Baekje period have been recreated on the territory of the park.

There are many shopping areas in Seoul that are sure to appeal to shopping lovers. The best shopping places in Seoul: Namdae-mun (one of the biggest markets), Dongdae-mun (one of the oldest markets, you can bargain here), Muyeongdong (boutiques), Insadong (souvenirs, antiques and works of art), Itaewon (modern shopping center, where most sellers understand and speak English), Yongsan Electronics (the largest electronics store in the country), Goyang-dang (spices and herbs market), Hwangkhak-dong (second hand stores), a huge COEX mall (the largest in the country), Apgujeong (the most expensive clothing stores).

If you are traveling with children, then you should visit the amusement parks of Grand Park Seoul with the tenth largest zoo in the world, Seoul Land with many attractions and entertainment centers of COEX and LOTTE. Cruises on the Han River are very popular, especially in the evening. In addition to cruises on sightseeing ferries, you can rent a motorboat and go on a trip alone. On the right bank of the Han River in the southeastern part of the Old City, there are several areas for windsurfing and kite surfing. In addition, lovers of skiing go to Seoul, because in its vicinity in the provinces of Gyeongsang and Gangwon, at a maximum distance of 200 km, there are numerous ski resorts. On the slopes of Mount Dokjo, surrounded by pine forests, is Yangzhi Pine Resort.

It operates all year round and is more suitable for families. The resort has 7 slopes, including 1 for beginners and 3 for experts, as well as 6 ski lifts. On its territory there is a special snow park for family recreation, a swimming pool, a hotel, hostels, a supermarket, equipment rental and a sportswear store. During the summer, the golf club opens.

Not far from here is the ski resort of Star Hill.. It is more suitable for young people, it is a noisy place with opportunities for skiing in the evening and at night. The resort has 5 slopes with a maximum length of up to 700 m, a toboggan slope and 5 lifts, including a gondola. There are also equipment rental offices, an emergency room, a ski school, a playground, a restaurant and a karaoke club. Also in the vicinity are Jisan Forest with three pistes and Bearstown, which has seven pistes up to 2900 m long.

The largest number of ski resorts is located in the province of Gangwon. To the west of the city of Sokcho is the ski resort “Alps”. This northernmost ski resort in South Korea. The snow cover stays here until mid-April. Holidays here are suitable for families with children. On the territory of the resort there are equipment rental offices, a ski school, a children’s club, a health center, restaurants and cafes.

South of the Odae-san National Park, at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level, there is a ski resort Yongpyeong.. Its name means “Dragon Valley” in Korean. The resort is open all year round. Here is the longest ski slope in the country with a length of 5600 m. The elevation difference in these places ranges from 30 to 700 m. The resort offers vacationers a choice of 31 slopes of varying degrees of difficulty. Half of the slopes are illuminated at night. The slopes are served by 15 lifts, among which is a gondola lift for 6 people. For snowboarders, the resort is equipped with a half-pipe. For families with children, there is a special Snow Sledge park. The resort has ski schools, experienced instructors, several hotels, a medical office, a playground, equipment rentals, a restaurant, an Internet cafe, a nightclub and even a hippodrome. During the summer, golf courses open here.

Daemon Vivaldi Park Resort perfect for unprepared skiers and snowboarders. There are 11 trails with a length of 350 to 1070 m, as well as a slope for sledding. The slopes are served by 10 lifts. The resort has a ski school, restaurants and cafes, night and karaoke clubs. In the summer, tourists are invited to golf courses and a huge water park.

Hyundai Songgu Resort has 20 slopes of various difficulty levels, a toboggan run and 8 lifts, including a gondola lift. For snowboarders, a halfpipe is equipped, where in 2009 the Snowboarding World Championship is to be held. The resort has ski and snowboard schools, equipment rental, a swimming pool, a sauna, a gym, a billiard room, a bowling alley, restaurants, cafes, a nightclub, karaoke, an Internet cafe, a kids club and even souvenir shops.

The Phoenix Park ski resort has 12 slopes of various difficulty levels from 230 to 1110 m long, a snowboarding area and 9 lifts, including a gondola lift. On the territory of the resort there is a ski school, a hotel, villas and small motels, equipment rental, skating rink, swimming pool, bowling, billiard rooms, shooting range, Korean and Chinese restaurants, karaoke club and children’s playground. During the summer, golf is practiced at the resort.

From Seoul, you can go to the demilitarized (demarcation) zone that separates North and South Korea, located a few kilometers to the north. To do this, you need to have a passport with you, according to which you will be issued a permit. Tourists will be interested in the village of Panmun-chzhom. It was here that negotiations were held between the two warring states during the Korean War and the armistice agreement was signed. The meeting room where these events took place is now open to tourists. At the demarcation line, 150-meter masts with the flag of each of them rise from the sides of each state. Interestingly, the line is real, it is a concrete strip 7 cm high. To visit this area, you need to obtain a special permit.

Seoul (South Korea)