Gyeong-bokgung, Reminder of a Great Heritage

A door into the past.

The wonderful thing about Korean Architecture is that without obliterating its own principles of geomancy – the art of placing or arranging buildings or other sites auspiciously, based on geomagnetism- it reflects the strong influence of the cultures, religions and nations that once controlled the region.

On my previous post, we saw how Koreans adapted their culture and beliefs when building Buddhist temples. In this post, I’m sharing some examples of Imperial architecture. Now let’s remember that, unfortunately, there are not many examples left; wars, invasions and environmental accidents have destroyed most of what once existed and what is left has been rebuilt several times throughout the centuries.

In 1395, three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded by Yi Seong-gye, the construction of the main royal palace was completed and the capital of the newly founded dynasty moved from Gaeseong to Seoul (then known as Hanyang). The palace was named Gyeong-bokgung, the “Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven,” or the “Palace of Shining Blessings.” Regardless of the true meaning of the name, the site of Gyeong-bokgung Palace was at the heart of Seoul located between Mount Bugaksan and Mount Namsan.

Main Entrance. Joseon architecture is defined as from the 14th century to the 19th century. The founding of the Joseon dynasty in 1392 brought to power like-minded men steeped in the doctrines of Neo-Confucianism, which had slowly percolated into Korea from China in the 14th century.
Neo-Confucianism inspired new architectural paradigms. Jaesil, or clan memorial halls, became common in many villages where extended families erected facilities for common veneration of a distant ancestor.
villages where extended families erected facilities for common veneration of a distant ancestor. Jongryo, or memorial shrines, were established by the government to commemorate exceptional acts of filial piety or devotion.
Beautiful Corridor. The new environment that was relatively hostile to Buddhism, causing the state to gradually shift its patronage from Buddhist temples to Confucian institutions.

It’s hard to believe that what we see today when we visit this place is not even a third of what it used to be, several foreign invasions practically destroyed this place completely.

After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, granting Korea its independence, the task of restoring these places began. Construction continues today, although according to experts, the palace will never regain the grandeur it possessed during its 600-years life. I have to confess that this is very hard to believe since I was totally fascinated and overwhelmed by all that beauty the minute I stepped into the main entrance of this magical place. Perla Copernik Photography Fan Page

Throughout the early dynasty, the impetus to reform society along Neo-Confucian lines led to the construction of hyanggyo (local schools) in Seoul and numerous provincial cities. Here, sons of the aristocracy prepared for civil service careers in an atmosphere of Confucian learning.
Royal quarters. The aesthetics of Neo-Confucianism, which favored practicality, frugality, and harmony with nature, forged a consistent architectural style throughout Korean society.
There is something about fall foliage and Asian architecture.


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