Friday, December 2, 2022

Jongmyo Shrine in Seoul

Jongmyo Shrine is a Confucian shrine dedicated to memorial services for the deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897).  The shrine is the oldest existing royal Confucian shrine and the ritual ceremonies continue a tradition established in the 14th century.

The main buildings of the shrine were constructed in 1394 and the shrine was destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion (1592-1598) and rebuilt in the early 1600s.  The shrine continue to be the location of the Jongmyo Daejae ancestor-worship ceremony, where descendants of the imperial family honor the spirits of their deceased ancestors.

When a king or queen died, mourning would continue at the palace for three years.  When the mourning period was over, memorial tablets for the deceased would be transferred to Jongmyo and enshrined.  Kings credited with outstanding virtuous deeds are enshrined in Jeongjeon, the main hall, which currently has 19 spirit chambers and houses a total of 49 tablets.

The entrance to the shrine is located in a beautiful park.

Entrance to the shrine

Park outside the entrance

Entering the shrine, we find two paths, a gravel path for us and a stone path for spirits.

Dual pathway

Layout of Jongmyo Shrine

We wander through the grounds, making our way toward Jeongjeon in the rear.

Entering the complex

As we approach the main hall, Jeongjeon, we find that we cannot enter as the roof is being replaced.  Replacing the 82,000 tiles in the roof is taking about two years and we'll need to come back later to visit this part of the shrine.

Jeongjeon in better times, under construction

Ceremony at Jeongjeon

Walking back toward the entrance, we pass Yeongnyeongjeon, the Hall of Eternal Peace, built in 1421 when Jeongjeon could no longer accommodate any more spirit tablets.


Other outlying buildings served functions related to the ceremonies, such as Akgongcheong, where the court musicians and dancers waited to perform rituals.


Walking back toward to entrance of the shrine, we enjoy the beautiful gardens and landscaping.

Passing through the grounds

We'll have to return when the Jeongjeon roof replacement is done!

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