Changdeokgung Palace was the second royal villa built following the construction of Gyeongbokgung Palace in 1405. It was the principal palace for many kings of the Joseon dynasty, and is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal Joseon palaces. The palace grounds are comprised of a public palace area, a royal family residence building, and the rear garden. Known as a place of rest for the kings, the rear garden boasts a gigantic tree that is over 300 years old, a small pond and a pavilion.
The palace gained importance starting from the time of Seongjong, the 9th king of Joseon, when a number of kings began using it as a place of residence. Unfortunately, the palace was burned down by angry citizens in 1592 when the royal family fled their abode during the Japanese invasion of Korea. Thanks to Gwanghaegun, the palace was restored in 1611. Even today, it houses a number of cultural treasures, such as Injeongjeon Hall, Daejojeon Hall, Seonjeongjeon Hall, and Nakseonjae Hall.
Changdeokgung Palace’s garden behind the inner hall, called the Secret Garden, was constructed during the reign of King Taejong and served as a resting place for the royal family members. The garden had formerly been called Bugwon and Geumwon, but was renamed Biwon Garden after King Gojong came into power. The garden was kept as natural as possible and was touched by human hands only when absolutely necessary. Buyongjeong Pavilion, Buyongji Pond, Juhamnu Pavilion, Eosumun Gate, Yeonghwadang Hall, Bullomun Gate, Aeryeonjeong Pavilion, and Yeongyeongdang Hall are some of the many attractions that occupy the garden. The most beautiful time to see the garden is during the fall when the autumn foliage is at its peak and the leaves have just started to fall.
Though it has been treasured by Koreans for centuries, Changdeokgung Palace was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage site by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee in December of 1997 during the committee meeting in Naples, Italy.