Gwanghwamun & Jongno-gu

The impressive main gate to Seoul's premier palace is flanked by stone carvings of haechi, mythical lion-like creatures traditionally set to protect the palace against fire; they never really did work and, appearances to the contrary, are superfluous today as the gate is now a painted concrete rather than wood structure. Changing of the guard ceremonies occur every hour, on the hour between 10am and 4pm here.

The gate's name translates as 'may the light of enlightenment blanket the world'.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Gwanghwamun & Jongno-gu attractions

1. National Palace Museum of Korea

0.12 MILES

In a modern building in the southwest corner of Gyeongbokgung's compound, this museum displays royal artefacts that highlight the wonderful artistic…

3. Gallery Hyundai

0.15 MILES

The trailblazer for Korea's contemporary commercial-gallery scene, Hyundai has been going strong since 1970 and represents some of the giants of the scene…

4. Daelim Contemporary Art Museum

0.19 MILES

Daelim specialises in exhibitions on photography, design and fashion. The building, which was originally a family house, was remodelled by French…

5. Gyeongbokgung


Like a phoenix, Seoul’s premier palace has risen several times from the ashes of destruction. Hordes of tourists have replaced the thousands of government…

7. King Sejong Statue

0.22 MILES

A statue of the revered scholar king (1397–1450) sits regally on a throne in the middle of Gwanghwamun. An entrance at the statue's base leads down to an…

8. Jean Art Gallery

0.24 MILES

Pioneer of the Tongui-dong gallery scene and specialising in representing contemporary Korean and Japanese artists, such as Naru Yoshitomo and Yayoi…