Jongmyo Shrine ( Korean: 종묘, 宗廟 )
The Jongmyo Shrine was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1995.
Throughout much of traditional Asian culture, including China and Korea, rite has been highly important, and in modern society preserving rite carries with it the meaning of maintaining basic social order. There are a number of rituals which are considered important forms of rite, and the most significant of these in Korea are the Jongmyo and the Sajik rituals. Jongmyo is the term used for a place where memorial services are performed for deceased kings, and Sajik is the term for a place where services for the Gods of Earth and Crops are performed. These rituals are symbols for nations themselves in that they guarantee order and successful ruling of the nation.
Consequently, due to the importance of these rituals, the Jongmyo and Sajik shrines where the rituals are performed are classic in their architectural grace, detail and beauty.
Although such facilities existed in Korea as early as the Three Kingdoms Period, those that remain today in Seoul are from the Joseon Dynasty(1392-1910).
The first Jongmyo of the dynasty was erected in Seoul in 1395, and the main hall, Jeongjeon, contained 7 rooms, One room was used for the memorial tablets of one king and his queen. The 4th king of the dynasty, King Sejong, had an additional hall, Yeongnyeongjeon("Hall of Eternal comfort"), built beside the main hall to house all of the tablets which could not be housed in the main hall. With successive reigns and an increasingly large number of memorial tablets, however, additions had to be made to the facilities.