Jongmyo Shrine was built by Lee Seong Gye or King Taejo (1335-1408), the first king and founding father of the Joseon Dynasty. It was a primary place of worship for kings throughout the Joseon Dynasty and has been registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
The royal shrine houses the tablets of the Joseon Kynasty kings and queens, and is the venue of yearly ritual ceremonies, now held annually the first Sunday of May.
Japanese invaders burt down original structues in 1592, but rebuilt in 1608.
I wondered why the ponds here never had any fish an lacked the lush floral displays found at nearby palaces. Apparently in deference to departed souls, such amenities were not originally introduced. However, as seen here, there are a few modern exception to ancient sensitivities.
In the background is "Mangmyoru", used as an office and sometime meditation spot for the deceased. The name means: the king thinks about the achievement of previous kings, and the policies which would benefit his people...".
The place has undergone changes over the past decade. Once, people filled the area on a fine Spring day. Now, one has to take a guided tour. At the end of the excursion, we tried to sit where senior citizens once lingered. A tender came over and told us we were not allowed to sit in the benches beside the pond, not more than 20 meters from this picture. The pendulum of human foibles swings - from exclusive royal haunt, to plebian respite, back towards a more restful venue for the departed.
King's rest stop, 2012.
Entire Jongmyo set at: www.flickr.com/photos/karl_wolfgang/sets/7215762652339293...
Official UNESCO writeup at:
Caveat: pictures are kind of lame, not to Flikr standards:) However, the historical content is good.