Jongmyo Shrine served as the venue for the royal ancestral rites during the Joseon period. Unesco inscribed Jongmyo on its World Heritage List in 1995. The construction of Jongmyo Shrine was completed in 1395 before that of the main palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace. Jongmyo Shrine is the supreme shrine of the state where the tablets of royal ancestors are enshrined and memorial services are performed for deceased kings and queens.
There are 83 spirit tablets of the kings and queens enshrined either in the Main Hall (Jeongjeon) or the Hall of Eternal Peace (Yeongnyeong-jeon). The Hall of Eternal Peace was built in 1421 after the Main Hall ran out of space. Subsequently, the two buildings were expanded several times resulting in their uniquely long linear shape today.
In addition to the two shrine halls, the Jongmyo compound has various halls that were used when preparing for the rites. The layout and structures of Jongmyo Shrine are very simple. The spirit chambers inside the halls where the spirit tablets are enshrined are decorated inside but the shrine halls have minimal adornment and project a sense of dignity and solemnity.
The Main Hall (Jeongjeon) is listed as National Treasure No. 227 and is the longest building of traditional desgin in Korea.
In Jeseon, a strict Confucian society, ceremonies to deceased ancestors were the most important of all rites. The ceremonies were presided over by the King and served as a model for all sacrificial rites in the dynasty. The ceremony has three distinct phases:
1. Welcoming of the Spirits
2. Entertaining them
3. Ushering them out
The ceremony previously was conducted five times a year but since 1971 it has been held on the first Sunday in May.
Opening Hours / Admission:
Closed on Tuesdays.
March – September: 09:00 – 18:00
October – February: 09:00 – 17:30
On weekdays and Sundays you can only enter the shrine with a guided tour.
Korean – 9 times a day / 09:20 – 16:20 (every hour), (17:00 March to September only)
English – 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00
Japanese – 09:00, 09:40, 10:40, 11:40, 12:40, 13:40, 14:40, 15:40, (16:40 March to September only)
Chinese – 11:00, 15:00
On Saturdays you are free to wander around Jongmyo by yourself.
Adults (19 and over): 1,000 won
Children: 500 won
How to get to Jongmyo Shrine:
Take line 1, 3 or 5 to Jongno 3 (sam)-ga station and leave exit 7 or 11 and follow the map below.
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