Located in the old centre of Seoul, Changdeokgung 창덕궁 昌德宮 (UNESCO World Heritage Site) was built in 1405, as the second palace after Gyeongbokgung. While the first palace was built according to the perfect hexagram in Chinese geomancy where everything has to be asymmetrical and located along the main 8 axis (directions), Changdeokgung was built into the landscape – meaning that the buildings of the whole palace complex is built into the natural topography of the location. Unfortunately, only 30% of the existing structures are dated from before the Japanese occupation in 1910.
The site takes one full day to visit, so do plan enough time ahead.
What I really like about the site was The Secret Garden, where royal family indulged in literature and gardening. Unlike Japanese and Chinese gardens, Korean gardens are less stylised and they focus on mimicking nature, very much in line with 19th century English gardens. The “Garden” is actually a big part of a large forested hill dotted with separate complexes linked by picturesque pathways.