Originally built in 1395 by the first Joseon king, Gwanghwamun serves as the main gate of Seoul’s Gyeongbukgung Palace, the largest of the five Joseon Dynasty palaces. The granite gate stood until the Japanese invasion of 1592, when the gate and the palace were burned and abandoned for the next 250 years.
Further conflict with the Japanese and the Korean War led to the gate and palace being rebuilt, relocated and destroyed a second time. Gwanghwamun as it stands today was rebuilt in 1968 using concrete and steel instead of the original granite, though it was deconstructed and moved back to its original location during a major restoration project in 2006.
Plan your visit to Gwanghwamun to coincide with the changing of the guard, a ceremony occurring hourly from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Visiting the gate and watching the changing of the guard is free, but you’ll have to pay an entrance fee to tour Gyeongbukgung Palace.