Photos of Traditional Seoul, Korea's Ancient Capital, Korea

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Traditional Seoul, Korea's Ancient Capital

Seoul's history goes back more than two thousand years: the city, on the Han River, was founded in 18 BCE by Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea and was then known as Wiryeseong. It was named Namgyeong during the Goryeo era, from 918 to 1392. After the Joseon dynasty came to power, the capital was moved here in 1394 from Gaeseong (presently Kaesong, North Korea), and it became known as Hanseong or Hanyang. Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910 and during the Japanese colonial period, until 1945, Seoul was named Keij┼Ź in Japanese or Gyeongseong in Korean, although the name "Seoul" was also in use since at least 1882.

Admiral Yi Sun-sin
 
Turtle ship model
 
Statue of King Sejong
 
Sungnyemun Gate
 
Shop in Bukchon
 
Bukchon Hanok Village
 
Central Post Office
 
Central Post Office
 
Bosingak belfry
 
Statue of King Sejong
 
Jeoldusan Memorial
 
Seung-Hoon Lee
 
Seonamsa bell
 
Seonbawi
 
Pigeons at Seonbawi
 
Gijaam or Seonbawi
 
Patriotic Martyr Monument
 
Dongnimmun Gate
 
Korea House
 
Namsangol Hanok Village
 
Hwanggungu, Hwangudan
 
Stone drums, Hwangudan
 
The doors, Hwangudan
 
Hwanggungu roof
 

Although heavily damaged during the Japanese occupation and again during the Korean War, Seoul has many traditional buildings and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, now painstakingly restored, like the "Five Grand Palaces" and the Jongmyo Shrine built during the Joseon Dynasty. There are still traditional "Hanok" houses to be found, in Bukchon and Namsangol Hanok Villages, massive city gates and ancient temples, like the Buddhist-shamanist temple Seonamsa on Inwangsan (White Tiger mountain), overlooking Seoul.

There are reminders of ancient rulers, King Sejong, who ruled from 1418 to 1450 and under whose patronage the Korean Han'gul script was developed; heroes like Admiral Yi Sun-sin, the famed Korean naval commander who defeated the Japanse navy in the Imjin wars, the Japanese invasions of Korea in the late 16th century; and martyrs like Seung-Hoon Lee, the first Korean baptised as a Catholic and executed for his faith in 1801 and more recently the thousands of Koreans who died for the cause of national independence from the Japanese, commemorated at the Patriotic Martyr Monument.