|1995||Inscribed||Reasons for inscription|
Have you been to Jongmyo Shrine
? Share your experiences!
This is sober stuff. I don't know if you can say that you like it or not - it's meant as a shrine.
Although I did some homework I didn't really get a grip on this monument. It is big, very big - said to be the largest wooden construction in the world.
Thibault Magnien (France):
Jongmyo Shrine is a Confucian sanctuary dedicated to the Joseon dynasty dead members. It was built in 1394 by king Taejo and is then thought to be the oldest Confucian sanctuary. It was destroyed by the Japanese and rebuilt in 1601. This one is still in place. It used to welcome some of the Tripitaka Koreana, wooden tablets that are now within the Haiensa temple, as well registered as WHS.
The main distinctive element is the great square in front of the building, 150 meters long and 100 meters width. The complex is still used today for ritual ceremonies.
This site is really intersting for its architecture and its symbolism. Located in the center of Seoul, you can easily get there by subway, the syop is Jongno 3 ga on the line 1.
Date posted: April 2012 Ian Cade (England):
From reading the other reviews it seems there is a bit of a split in peopleís views of this shrine. I will say I am in the baffled camp. It is a pretty austere site to get a grip on.
Essentially it is a walled park with two large rectangular courtyards lined with bulky wooden buildings fronted with closed doors on one side. It isnít really an easily accessible site, which is why I was glad to see that access to this site is now by guided tour only (about every 2 hours in English). I think this is actually good as the guide was able to try and make some sense of the Confucian concepts behind the function of the shrine. That being said; I donít think I have ever seen people look as bored as many did on my tour. It wasnít the fault of the guide who did a sterling job considering how alien the concepts can be to many westerners.
I was sort of looking forward to seeing the architecture of the site. I am a big fan of the modern architect Mies van der Rohe who is famous for stating ďLess is moreĒ; as such I have a fairly high tolerance for buildings that others may see as monotonous, but however hard I tried I still didnít get much from the structures, and perhaps that would be missing the point anyway.
The site does tie in well with Seoulís other World Heritage Sites as they cover the places where the kings lived, were buried and Jongmyo is where their souls rest.
Also just to pick up on Robís point below; Koreaís attitude to entrance fees really should be commended. If there is any cost it tends to be in the Ďnominalí category, and here was no different (Ä0.80 entry and tour).
The shrine is right next to Changdeokgung another WHS, and just a short stroll form the antique shops and tea rooms of Insadong (my recommendation is Sin Yetchatjip/ Old Teashop where you can enjoy your cuppa in the company of some inquisitive finches that fly around the knick-knacks inside).
It think it wonít be the most understandable of sites for many that are not up on Confucian ideas, I am glad that I visited it but I enjoyed my tea with the curious birds a little more.
[Site 2: Experience 4]
Date posted: November 2011 Kyle Magnuson (United States of America):
What makes Jongmyo Shrine special is it's unique architecture and peacefulness. The site is a splendid place to take a walk, or as a quite spot for reflection. This site will not amaze you, but be patient and relax and you can certainly appreciate this beautiful shrine.
Date posted: April 2010 Rob Wilson (UK/Korea):
Unlike the other posters, I don't think this place is boring at all! I really like it, and is one of my favourite places in Seoul. It is beautifully serene and peaceful (most of the time). It is also only about $1 to get it, making it one of the cheaper WHSs that I've been to. Korea has a commendable policy on entry fees.
Date posted: October 2008 Frederik Dawson (Netherlands):
The royal ancestral shrine of Jongmyo is a simple but serene wooden complex housing spirit tablets of kings and queens of Joseon dynasty who ruled Korea for more than 500 years in the city center of Seoul.
The complex is quite unique in East Asia where normally the spirit tablets are kept in a small shrine in the house or palace in case of royalties, but Jongmyo was built apart from the palace which makes it different from other royal Confucius shrines in China. However, Jongmyo is not an active shrine and most of the times are closed making it just big boring buildings in the forest-liked park with few visitors, a really contrast to lively Japanese royal shrines in Tokyo or Kyoto.
The royal ceremony in Jongmyo called Jongmyo Daeje, a performance of ritual, music and dance, is considered the only existing royal Confucius ceremony that still practicing in modern time recognized by UNESCO as world intangible cultural asset, so Jongmyo is a few place on earth holding two statuses from UNESCO world heritage program.
In 2008, I chose to visit Jongmyo on the first Sunday of May, the only time of the year when Jongmyo is backed to its glory by the performance of Jongmyo Daeje. The whole park is really crowded with thousands of spectators and lots of people dressed in ancient Korean ceremonial robes, a real feast of sight. I decided to see the morning ceremony at Yeongnyeongjeon Shrine since it was impossible to find a seat in the already full Jeongjeon Shrine where the afternoon ceremony would took place. The ceremony was nice with strange sound of ancient musical instruments and many graceful ritual movements from dancers and because of the ceremony, all gates of the shrine were opened providing a rare chance to peek the spirit tablets inside the building.
However, I was not impressed Jongmyo at all since the whole area was quite chaotic with lots of noisy spectators and paparazzi-liked photographers in every corners of the shrine, the organizing system need to be set up, I even think it could be nicer to visit this place when there is no ceremony at all.
Date posted: May 2008 C H Ho (Hong Kong, China):
Jongmyo Shrine is nothing to see. It likes an elders' garden. The worth thing and the most important thing is annual holy services for the Kings and Queens at the fist Saturday in May. It keeps the traditional dances and musical for over several hundred years
Have you been to Jongmyo Shrine ? Share your experiences!