advertisement

A place of worship for the kings of the Joseon Dynasty, this royal shrine was built by King Lee Sung-Gye, the first in that royal line, in 1394. At this designated UNESCO World Heritage site, the annual ceremony held in honor of the dead monarchs is considered the oldest complete ceremony in the world. It is usually performed here on the first Sunday of May.

The buildings in Jongmyo include Jeongjeon (the main hall), Yeongnyeongjeon (the Hall of Eternal Peace), and other auxiliary facilities. Jeongjeon, with its attached cloister, was the longest building in Asia when it was built Today, it contains the memorial tablets of 19 Joseon kings and 30 Joseon queens in 19 spirit chambers.

There are three paths in front of the main gate, each with a special meaning. The middle one was for the dead kings, the east road for the reigning king, and the west road for the reigning prince. The road in the middle goes to Jeongjeon, where the annual ceremony mentioned above is held. The other roads lead to Jeongsacheon. After preparing the body and mind, the king and prince go to Jeongsacheon, where a traditional meal is prepared for them. The music performed in the ceremony has been handed down for nearly 600 years.