The 39 best sights in Seoul – descriptions and photos

The 39 best sights in Seoul – descriptions and photos

Gyeongbokgung Palace (which translates from Korean as “palace of radiant happiness”) is considered the largest of the “Five Great Palaces”. This group includes five palace complexes in Seoul that were erected more than 500 years ago. They were all built by rulers of the Joseon royal dynasty.

Gyeonghigungung Palace in Seoul

Gyeonghigungung Palace is located on the western side of Seoul, hence it is also often called Seogwol – Western Palace. It is one of the most beautiful palaces of the Korean capital and of Korea in general. It is part of Seoul’s “Five Great Palaces,” a group of palace complexes built more than 500 years ago.

Doksugun Palace in Seoul

Doksugun Palace in Seoul is the only palace in the city with buildings built in the European style rather than the traditional Korean style. This palace is part of a group of complexes called the Five Great Palaces in Seoul. They were all built about 500 years ago by the Joseon Dynasty.

Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul

The history of Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, dates back to the distant Middle Ages. The name literally translates from Korean as “palace of unbridled joy.

Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul

Seoul is famous for its palaces – there are many of them. But the most noteworthy are the “Five Great Palaces,” an umbrella name for five palace complexes built more than 500 years ago. All of them were built by the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 to 1897.

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Yuxam Building in Seoul

The Yuksam Building is the signature skyscraper of Yeoui-do in Seoul. It represents all the power and modernity of the city’s business center. Construction of the building began in 1980 and lasted only five years, a relatively short time for a structure of this height (249 meters).

War Memorial of the Republic of Korea in Seoul

The Republic of Korea War Memorial, despite its name, wasn’t just created as a tribute to those who died in wars for the country. It represents a huge museum complex with a collection of weapons, tanks, aircraft and other military equipment, as well as historical displays.

Tombs of the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty

For more than 500 years, from 1392 to 1910, the territory of the two Koreas was known to the world as Joseon. And the country was ruled by the mighty Lee dynasty. It was not only during their lifetime that royalty cared about their greatness, so each member of the royal family was entitled to a tomb when they passed away.

Gwanghwamun

It’s hard to believe that not long ago there was a wide highway where the fountains of Gwanghwamun Square were located. But the proximity of tourist Mecca, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and the poor environmental condition of downtown Seoul inspired city officials to radically transform this part of the city.

The Rainbow Fountain Bridge in Seoul

One can hardly be surprised today by a bridge with fountains – it is the most common sight in many large cities and metropolitan areas. Streams of water pour down on both sides of the bridge directly into the body of water over which it is laid. And in the evening it is an even more picturesque spectacle.

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The Lium Museum

Who would have thought it, but the Samsung company, in addition to its core business, is actively engaged in charity and support for the arts. The main pride of the South Korean concern is the Lium contemporary art gallery.

Museum of optical illusions in Seoul

Trick Eye Museum is an interactive museum where all the paintings are in 3D and visitors have a unique opportunity to experience art first hand. The museum offers galleries where visitors can get up close and personal with the paintings.

Seoul Olympic Park.

Many people associate the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul with the brilliant victory of the Soviet soccer team over Brazil. For the Koreans, the Olympics legacy was a record 4th place finish and the stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies were held. The Koreans did not tear it down.

Namsan Park

Namsan Hill is by no means the highest in Seoul. But the park on its slopes has settled into the list of the capital’s favorite places for walks in the top spot. It’s all because of the scenic views and abundance of sights.

Lotte World amusement park

Lotte World, Seoul’s premier entertainment complex, was long listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest indoor amusement park until it was surpassed by Warner Bros World in Abu Dhabi. The giant pill-shaped pavilion is said to be visible even from space.

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Cheonwhae Presidential Residence in Seoul

Cheongwadae Presidential Residence is a true symbol of Seoul. As you know, each color has its own meaning for Koreans. Cheonwadae Palace, the roof of which is a deep blue-green hue, is no exception.

Bukhansan

Bukhansan National Park is quite small, only 80 square kilometers, but that does not prevent it from receiving more than 5 million visitors annually. The reason for its impressive popularity is its accessibility: you can take the subway from bustling Seoul to this oasis of wildlife.

Seoul TV Tower

The Seoul TV Tower is nothing less than the main symbol of the South Korean capital. Every weekend thousands of Seoul residents and tourists flock to the top of Mount Namsan for a bird’s eye view of the city – some for the first time, some for the eons.

Myeongdong Cathedral

It may come as a surprise to some, but South Korea is a predominantly Christian country. So don’t be surprised if you stroll through the seemingly ordinary streets and see a religious building that is quite uncharacteristic of Asia.

Sodemun Prison

Jail is definitely not the place a normal person dreams of visiting. But it is only natural to want to know what the walls of a not-so-distant place conceal. The Seodaemun Prison Museum offers such an opportunity to anyone who is a little weary of Seoul’s many palaces and temples.

Seoul is a city with more than six hundred years of history that cherishes ancient traditions and is famous for its innovations. Here everyone can find something to their liking – a performance of national dance groups accompanied by an unforgettable costume show, tours to ancient palaces full of luxuries and antiques, leisurely walks in picturesque parks, a tour to a giant oceanarium or simply mind-blowing shopping.

Historic Center of Seoul

The first place to start in Seoul is the historic center, with many ancient temples and palaces, among which Changgyeonggung and Changdeokgung stand out – not only are they extremely rich in interior decoration, but also the surrounding territory with beautiful parks in the Oriental style. Gyeongbokgung, one of the oldest palace complexes in Seoul, built in the 15th century, deserves special attention and was the main royal residence for a long time.

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Next to Gyeongbokgung are fragments of a fortress structure, including a well-preserved front gate with sculptures of magical animals designed to protect Seoul from evil forces.

Next to Gyeongbokgung are fragments of a fortress structure, including a well-preserved front gate with sculptures of magical animals designed to protect Seoul from evil forces.

There is also a “Korean House” in the historic center of the city, where costume performances are regularly held in accordance with ancient national traditions. Another interesting attraction of this area is the “Bosingak” bell tower, the ringing of which was heard during the opening or closing of the main city gates, today the bell rings only in the first minutes of the New Year. It is also interesting to visit Ponunsa Temple, which was founded as early as the 8th century.

Itaewon Street

Then you can go to one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the city, Itaewon Street, located near the historic center. Since the middle of the last century, U.S. Army soldiers have permanently stayed here, which can’t help but influence the character of the local life. Once you are in Itaewon, you feel like you are anywhere but in Korea, because you are surrounded mostly by Europeans or Americans.

You can go to one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the city, Itaewon Street, located near the historical center.

Here there is a huge number of European restaurants, cozy cafes, pastry stores, where they sell clothes of world famous brands, and almost all the signs are duplicated in English.

But it also retains a purely national flavor, as evidenced by the souvenir shops and small Korean restaurants, where you can try the local fast-food.

Business Center

With its respectable office buildings and the “63” skyscraper, the city’s business district with Yeohydo Island attracts visitors.

Business Center With its respectable office buildings and the “63” skyscraper, the city’s business district with Yoido Island attracts you with its respectable office buildings and skyscraper.

Where you can also find the largest temple in all of Korea and a very picturesque park. In general, the parks of Seoul deserve a separate talk, time spent here will be remembered for a long time, because all of them amaze with their beauty and opportunities for entertainment.

Seoul Parks

In fact, one of the most grandiose parks is located in Chamsil, the modern center of the capital. The park is called “Lotte World” and includes not only all kinds of attractions, but also a cinema, an ice rink, hotel, restaurant and shopping complexes. And all this set against the backdrop of picturesque nature with a real lake.

Park “Everland” will please fans of extreme entertainment, here you can not just ride the breathtaking rides, but also enjoy winter sports and even go on a small safari. The park is the fifth most visited park in the world.

But probably not even it can be compared to the Caribbean Bay Water Park, which has a huge number of thrilling water rides, pools with artificial waves and surfing opportunities. And the Grand Park will surprise you with its zoo, which is one of the top ten largest and most interesting zoos on the planet.

Unforgettable dinner in one of the most luxurious restaurants of the highest building in the Korean capital “63” is a logical conclusion of the eventful day in Seoul. From the observation deck of this “golden tower” there is a stunning view of the metropolis and even its surroundings.

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In general, Seoul is the perfect place to relax, whether you want to visit cultural attractions, relax in nature, do a lot of good shopping, or have a good time.

Attractions in Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace North Gate Myeongdong Cathedral Changdeokgung Palace National Museum of Korea Namdaemun Marketplace Doksugung Palace

This site compiles the sights of Seoul – photos, descriptions, and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to questions: what to see in Seoul, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places in Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace (photo)

Built at the end of the 14th century, Gyeongbokgung Palace is located in the northern part of Seoul and is one of the most important attractions in South Korea’s capital. As the largest of the Five Majestic Palaces, it was for many years the principal residence of the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty.

Gyeongbokgung continued to serve as the main palace until after the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598) when all five palaces were severely damaged. In 1868, the palace was reconstructed and its grounds expanded to 410,000 square meters, after which it housed more than 500 smaller buildings. Gyeongbokgung flourished for many years until the Japanese once again destroyed the palaces during the occupation of Korea in 1910-1945.

Through the efforts of the government of the Republic of Korea, an extensive restoration campaign began in 1990, resulting in the restoration of nearly half of the damaged buildings, including Gyeongbokgung itself. Among the restored buildings are now the Imperial Throne Hall, which was the central ceremonial site of the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, which is located on an artificial island in the middle of a small lake with three stone bridges that lead to the pavilion itself, and the hexagonal Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, located north of the palace grounds.

Coordinates : 37.57861100,126.97722200

North Gate

North Gate (photo)

The North Gate, also known as Sukjeongmun, was built during the Joseon dynasty at the same time as the Great Wall that surrounded Seoul. There were eight gates that provided access to the city, but six have survived.

The gate, built in 1396, was located near the Royal Palace and was therefore used not so much for receiving guests as for ceremonies. Originally the gates were made entirely of wood – a material that is environmentally friendly, but, alas, not durable. During the war with Japan they were damaged by fire, and their present appearance was obtained in 1976.

The Northern Gate is open to tourists, but first you must obtain a special pass, as nearby is the residence of the President of the country. The adjacent territory is guarded by soldiers of the Korean Army, but it is not recommended to take pictures of them, as well as of the residence itself – otherwise you risk to be suspected of espionage and then have to justify yourself in front of the security service for a long time, calling for help all your modest knowledge of the Korean language. However, the wall itself and the North Gate are allowed to be filmed. In literary translation, the second name Sukjeongmun means the Gate of Solemn Rule.

Coordinates: 37.59558100,126.98115600

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Myeongdong Cathedral

Myeongdong Cathedral (photo)

Myeongdong Cathedral is one of the main attractions on the street of the same name in Seoul. This active Catholic temple is also known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is a national monument of the country.

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Although long persecuted and suppressed, toward the end of the nineteenth century the governments of Korea became more liberal, allowing Bishop Jean Blanc to purchase land in Seoul and begin construction on a Christian cathedral, which was completed in 1898.

The architecture of this church, built of red and gray brick, is of the Neo-Gothic style. Its height together with the spire is 45 meters. A rather young temple by the standards of Christianity does not have a large collection of rare artifacts, but the fact that it was built on Korean soil at the end of the 19th century was a breakthrough of sorts. In the early 20th century, the relics of Korean martyrs who died as a result of the persecution of Christianity in Korea and were canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1984 were buried here.

Coordinates : 37.56338300,126.98720000

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Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace (photo)

Changdeokgung Palace, whose name translates from Korean as “Castle of Prosperous Virtue,” is located in one of the largest parks in Seoul, Jeonghoogu, and is a treasured architectural landmark.

It is one of the Five Great Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). Construction of Changdeokgung Palace began in 1405 and took just under seven years. Like many historic buildings in Korea, Changdeokgung suffered at the hands of Japanese invaders who repeatedly tried to conquer the country. It was first almost completely burned down by the Japanese in 1592, and was not rebuilt until 1609. Many years later, during the Japanese occupation of 1910-1945, the invaders destroyed Changdeokgung again.

At present, about a third of the structures on the territory of the castle have been restored. Thirteen buildings and 28 small garden structures remain on the 45-hectare site. The Huwon Garden, located within the park, was used by the royal family as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the world, and is remarkable for its picturesque landscapes. Tourists can visit this place with a guide by appointment.

Coordinates : 37.57944400,126.99166700

National Museum of Korea

National Museum of Korea (photo)

The National Museum of Korea, located in Seoul, is the country’s premier museum depicting the entire history of its development. According to a survey conducted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government among 2,000 foreign tourists in November 2011, the National Museum is considered one of the favorite places to visit for visitors to the city.

The museum opened in 1945, but with the outbreak of war between North and South Korea the National Museum and its 20,000 exhibits were safely moved to Busan. After the war, the museum and its exhibits changed several locations until it was given a new building located in Yongsan Family Park in 2005.

On the first floor is a large display of archaeological finds spanning from Paleolithic times to the present day. This includes many rare artifacts ranging from stone axes to sumptuous ancient royal ornaments. The second and third floors of the museum are devoted to fine art galleries. Here the best examples of fine arts and folk crafts from different periods are on display.

As the National Museum of Korea has a state-of-the-art audio and video guide system, it makes browsing through the exhibits much easier and allows you to get around much more quickly.

Coordinates : 37.52334000,126.97970000

Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market (photo)

Located in central Seoul, Namdaemun Market is the most popular market in the country. This market is known far beyond Seoul not only for its affordable prices but also for the opportunity to visit it at any time of the day or night – Namdaemun is even open at night.

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The Namdaemun Market was founded in the fifteenth century and is one of the oldest in the city. It owes its popularity largely to fairly low prices and an impressive selection of goods: shoes, clothing, household appliances and cosmetics. Cheapness of the goods is explained by the fact that most of the stores here have their own factories and can afford to sell goods without extra markups.

Foreign tourists eagerly buy ginseng, which has the power of life-giving ginseng, and which is on offer in a wide range: from fresh roots to honey infusions and face creams. Food peddlers scurrying between the rows offer a wide variety of food, from traditional hot dogs to exotic Korean dishes that not every European would dare to try. The counters also offer a large selection of rice vodka and dried squid. Evening and night hours are most convenient for wholesalers.

Coordinates : 37.56226900,126.97772000

Toksugun Palace

Toksugun Palace (photo)

The seat of the kings of the Joseon Dynasty, Toksugung Palace, surrounded by a strong wall, is one of the major architectural landmarks of Seoul. In 1608, Wang Gwanghaegun was crowned here, and the palace was named Gyeongungungung. But when the royal residence was relocated in 1618, Toksugun lost its significance and for almost three centuries it was called Seogun, meaning “Western Palace. The original name was given back to the palace by the new Korean emperor in the twentieth century.

The Palace of Virtuous Longevity – that is how the name Toksugun is translated – has an area of 61,500 square meters. It is an entire architectural complex with a beautiful garden and perfectly paved pathways. The Royal Museum inside the palace contains a collection of objects from the Joseon Kings’ era, while a separate exhibition is devoted to the works of contemporary artists.

Coordinates: 37.56596000,126.97499900

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Changgyeonggung Palace

Changgyeonggung Palace (photo)

Changgyeonggung Palace is located in Seoul, and is an ancient architectural monument whose history dates back to the reign of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392). The palace was originally called Suganggung, and it received its present name in the fifteenth century.

The emperors of the Koryo dynasty, like all ordinary people, loved summer vacations, and Changgyeonggung Palace was ideally suited for that purpose – for many centuries it had been the summer residence of the rulers of Korea. When the Joseon dynasty came to power, it became one of the Five Great Palaces. As is well known, Korea has historically had a rather complicated relationship with Japan, which has repeatedly tried to subjugate its overseas neighbors. The Japanese destroyed valuable architectural monuments of Korea during the period of their colonization activities. It is hard to say what was the main motive of the invaders: perhaps they simply disliked the specifics of Korean architecture or perhaps they enjoyed the process itself.

The bottom line is that Changgyeonggung Palace was severely damaged during this period, and a botanical garden and a zoo were established on its grounds. In 1983, the palace was completely rebuilt and the zoo was closed. Seoul residents and visitors can now admire the restored Changgyeonggung Palace and the many structures and pagodas on its grounds.

Coordinates : 37.57843000,126.99598000

The most popular attractions in Seoul with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Seoul on our website.

More attractions in Seoul

Soju Museum, Seoul, South Korea Sejong Stage Art Center, Seoul, South Korea Myung-dong Shopping Mall, Seoul, South Korea Seoul Tower on Mount Namasan, Seoul, South Korea Gimpo International Airport, Seoul, South Korea Chungju Stadium, Incheon, South Korea

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