The Great Green House of Changgyeong Palace 창경궁 대온실
Anybody who has travelled to Seoul would be familiar with Gyeongbok Palace (경복궁), the oldest and largest Joseon palace compound, built when the dynasty was founded as the king’s main residence. The best carpenters and other artisans of the dynasty were mobilized and the best materials were used for the construction of this grand palace. The appearance is neither ostentatious nor overbearing. However, I wouldn’t say Gyeongbok Palace is my favourite palace in Seoul due to its mega high traffic of tourists on a daily basis. I don’t know about you but I actually prefer being able to take a stroll in an Ancient palace when it’s quiet and serene so I’m able to fully take in my surroundings 💯.
So…approximately 2 weeks ago, with the help of my Korean boyfriend, I was able to discover a little gem hidden in Changgyeong Palace (창경궁), a palace that is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated palaces in Seoul. Easily missed by many, Changgyeong Palace is situated at the back of Changdeok Palace (창덕궁), connected by a back gate which allows access of the two palaces. It was built as a residence for King Seongjong’s 3 queen dowagers. Compared to the other famously known palaces in Seoul, the halls of Changgyeong Palace are small and relatively few. The layout is loose, with buildings positioned according to the topography. Personally, I love the sizeable garden and lotus pond located at the rear end of this zen-filled palace. It’s a great place to take a relaxing stroll in when you ever feel like taking a break from the fast-paced city life of Seoul.
More importantly, what really got me excited to write a blog post on in Changgyeong Palace is The Great Greenhouse (대온실), Korea’s first modern conservatory. Built in 1909, this little jewelry box alike botanical garden was designed by a Japanese, Hukuba who took charge of the conservatory for the royal family. It was the biggest conservatory at the time in Asia. Architecturally, with pointed arches and window frames, is believed to had inspired by the design of The Crystal Palace in London, England. Anyone who visits the botanical garden would be captured instantly from afar, by the white wooden frames and huge window panels that glisten under the sun. The window frames of the roof are shaped and pointed arch with a half-circle, which adds more design elements to the structure. Patterns of the plum blossom, the symbol of the Han Empire (대한제국), are used as decorations on the roof of the green house. The Great Greenhouse is the place to exhibit plants designated as a national monument, wild flowers and native plants.