Seoul’s Jongmyo Shrine originally served as the ancestral shrine for Joseon Dynasty kings. Built between 1335 and 1408, this UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises 19 rooms, each dedicated to a different Joseon king, and it’s an excellent example of traditional Confucian architecture. The Basics
Touring the world’s oldest Confucian sanctuary offers insight not only into Korean history, but also into Confucianism. Many sightseeing tours of Seoul include a stop at Jongmyo, and visitors traveling independently are required to join one of the guided tours that are offered at scheduled times throughout the week. It’s also possible to enter the shrine with a combo ticket of Seoul’s palaces, including Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Gyeongbokgung as well as Jongmyo. Things to Know Before You Go
- Jongmyo is a must-visit for history buffs and spiritual travelers.
- Plan to book a tour ahead of time, because a limited number of visitors are admitted each day.
- Tours of the shrine last about an hour.
- Guided tours of the site are available in English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.
- Jongmyo is wheelchair accessible, and offers wheelchair rentals and accessible restrooms.
How to Get There
Jongmyo Shrine is well-connected by public transportation. Take the Seoul Subway (Line 1, 3, or 5) to Jongno 3-ga Station and leave through Exit 11. Several public buses serve the Jongmyo Shrine bus stop. When to Get There
Jongmyo is open Wednesdays to Mondays throughout the year, with extended hours in summer. On the first Sunday of May, Jongmyo hosts a memorial service called Jongmyo Jaery, a rite lasting about six hours and thought to be the oldest ceremony in the world. Architecture of Jongmyo Shrine
Unlike the ornate Joseon Dynasty palaces in Seoul, Jongmyo’s Confucian architecture is characterized by simplicity and austerity. Although the shrine has been restored throughout the centuries, it looks much like it did in the 16th century, including its strikingly simple gable roof.