Jongmyo Shrine is recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site. There are two shrines here that hold the spirit tablets of Joseon Dynasty’s kings and queens. Koreans believe that their spirits live within the spirit tablets and thus ceremonies are held every year to honour and respect these spirits.
Unlike the palaces where the central path is only for the king, here at Jongmyo Shrine, this path is for the spirits. The path on the right is for the king and the path on the left is for the crown prince. Only men were allowed to take part in the ceremonies and memorials for the ancestors.
This is the building where preparations for the ceremonies would take place. Royal officials would change their attire and wait in these halls.
The gate to the king’s preparation quarters.
A look into all the different rooms of the main shrine and the spirit tablets of the kings and queens that it houses.
This is the entrance for the king and royals to the main shrine.
The main shrine of Jongmyo – Jeongjeon 정전. It houses 49 royal spirit tablets including that of King Sejong, the fourth king of Joseon.
This is my favourite shot and view of Jeongjeon, inspired by the photo I saw of the ceremony held here.
The secondary shrine – Yeongnyeongjeon 영녕전 which house 34 spirit tablets. In the center four rooms are the spirit tablets for King Taej0’s four ancestors. He was the founding king of the Joseon dynasty and thus, his ancestors became honourary kings.
Visiting Jongmyo Shrine was different from the palace visits and tours. It was much quieter and simpler here at the shrine. Also, visitors can only enter the shrine through a guided tour, with the exception on Saturdays where they may enter and wander themselves. Still, I quite enjoyed the experience and learned a lot more about the Korean culture.