Gwanghamun means “may the light of enlightenment blanket the world”. Founded in 1395, it symbolizes the creation of the Joseon Dynasty. However, much like the Gyeongbokgung palace, it too has been demolished more than once. You would think the memory would be lost forever. But maybe symbolic of the resilience of the nation of Korea, this gate has been rebuilt time and again and today it is the most beautiful of the five palace gates. However, because it is made of concrete, it was not designated by the Korean government as a National Treasure.
But I think it looks absolutely great. Furthermore when you see it from inside the palace grounds, the Seoul city skyline juxtaposed against it seems so surreal. The old and new in one shot.
Outside the gate though it is a busy three way intersection. Taking photos here means you have to contend with the traffic so I decided to take advantage of it and took one together with a passing public bus. One of many that take this route.
Here is another show from further away. I did want to take a photo with the mountain in the background but the night sky did not help that much. I guess at least the beautifully illuminated gate more than makes up for that.
You should also look out for Haetae. They are mythical unicorn-lion sculptures on either side of the gate that eat fire. Apparently there was a fire around Gwanaksan Mountain. So to protect the palace from fire, these sculptures were put beside the gate. I walked past them but they didn’t turn out very well at night in my photos. So unfortunately, I can’t post any of the photos here of these fire eating unicorn-lions!