CONTRIBUTED BY AMY HICKERSON
Lunar New Year was last week, which meant my son had an extra day off of school. Not wanting to waste a second of our time here, I went looking for something cultural for us to do that wasn’t too far away, and would be open and possibly have some activities going on.
I found Jongmyo Shrine on a list of open suggestions, and was interested to find that it is located in one of my favorite areas of Seoul, but I had never seen it nor heard of it.
We took the bus, so we needed to cross the street. I had looked it up on a map before setting out, which turned out to be a good thing, because you cannot currently see the shrine from the street. There is some construction going on in front of it, but luckily there were lots of signs like this posted to help you find your way. In the subway check the maps to find which station/direction you should head out of the station, and then follow these signs.
Once you get to the entrance, it looks like the grounds to many of the temples and palaces. However, upon entering you’ll notice it’s very quiet and serene. It was built as a place of worship and used for memorial services. The solemnity is still recognized and when we were there, the people were generally very quiet and respectful of others and the property.
Something interesting you’ll see right away is the pathway that runs along the main path through the grounds. There are 3 sections, with the central section being elevated. Guests are asked not to walk on that section, and here’s why:
As you tour the grounds near the entrance, there is a building where you can take your shoes off and enter to see a short video. It’s all in Korean (no English subtitles), but my son and I still enjoyed it. It shows the traditional memorial service ceremony. As we then toured the grounds we recognized the areas shown in the video. I would suggest stopping to watch; it made our visit a little more meaningful. When we saw this display, my son said, “That’s the guy from the movie!” Haha!
The real draw of the site is this area. This picture does not do it justice. It is massive, and beautiful.
I would definitely recommend a visit here. As I mentioned above, it’s close to Yongsan, a nice, peaceful location, and can easily be done in just a couple hours. It is not far from other popular destinations, such as the Cheonggyecheon Stream, Gwangjang Market, and Insadong.
Adults (ages 19 and over): 1,000W
Youths (ages 7-18): 500W
Children (ages 6 and under): Free
Hours: Closed Tuesdays
November – January 09:00~17:30
February – May; September – October 09:00-18:00
June – August 09:00-18:30
Phone: 82 2-765-0195
Address: 157 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
GPS Coordinates: 37.5729316, 126.9943518
How To Get There From Yongsan:
Bus 143 to Jongno (get off at the 2nd stop past the big Daiso store)
Subway Jongno-3 Station, Exit 11