Jongmyo Shrine is a Confucian royal shrine in Seoul that’s dedicated to the performance of memorial services during the Joseon Dynasty. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, this royal shrine and its surroundings are well-preserved in their present form since the 16th century, where visitors can marvel at traditional Korean architecture and rituals.
Located within a five-minute walk from Jongno-sam-ga subway station, Jongmyo Shrine consists of Jeongjeon (main hall), Yeongnyeongjeon (the hall of eternal peace), and several auxiliary buildings with detailed descriptions in English and Korean, all of which house the spirit tablets of members of the former royal family, deities, as well as the kings’ loyal subjects.
Jeongjeon Hall is divided into several rooms, with the open corridors in front and the 19 inner shrine rooms which are divided into cubicles to accommodate 49 spirit tablets of former kings and queens. Visitors are prohibited from passing the main entrance as it is only reserved for the spirits. Meanwhile, Yeongnyeongjeon Hall is built to house the remaining 16 spirit chambers of the royal family.
Chilsadang is a prayer hall within Jongmyo Shrine, where spirit tablets of seven deities are enshrined here such as the gods of palace gates, kitchens, roads, halls and rooms, entrances and exits, and those who die of epidemic diseases while Gongsindang (Hall Of Meritorious Officials) houses memorial tablets of 83 officials who have served the former Joseon kings.
Aside from offering unique sightseeing opportunities, cultural heritage festivals such as the Korean Royal Palace Culture Festival are also held in Jongmyo Shrine every year. It is also a great place to witness the Jongmyo Jerye, which is a 600 year-old royal Confucian ancestral ritual that has also been listed as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage. Every first Sunday of May, Jongmyo Jerye is performed by a troupe of traditionally-clad performers at Jongmyo Shrine twice – at Yeongnyeongjeon Hall in the morning and at Jeongjeon Hall in the afternoon.
As one of Seoul’s most sacred landmarks, visitors are only allowed to enter the Jongmyo Shrine’s heritage area on guided tours with entrance fees priced at 1, 000 won for adults 19 years and above) and 500 won for youths (aged between 7 and 18) while access to the interior of the buildings is strictly prohibited. Available in English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, each tour takes about an hour while the guides are very friendly and informative.
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Monday 09:00 – 18:30
Address: 157 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul