Jongmyo Shrine was built by Lee Seong Gye (1335-1408), the first king and founding father of the Joseon Dynasty. It was a primary place of worship for kings throughout the Joseon Dynasty and has been registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site for its well-preserved ancient customs such as memorial services and traditional music.
One of the many unique characteristics of Jongmyo Shrine is the 3-forked path of slightly raised roads that starts from in front of the main gate. The middle path is in honor of kings of the past and leads to Jeongjeon, where mortuary tablets of kings are preserved and memorial services are held. The tradition of enshrining successive kings was originally handed down from China, and has been well maintained. Jeongjeon has 19 different rooms in all, honoring 19 different kings.
The east road of the shrine’s forked path is for the living king and the west is for the living prince. These two paths connect to a room where the king and the prince used to go for ceremonial cleansing and to prepare for memorial services. After preparations had been complete, the king and the prince would then move into Jeonsacheong, a square-shaped room with a yard where the food for the service would be prepared.
The memorial service, called ‘Jongmyo Jaerye,’ is said to be the oldest complete ceremony in the world. It is annually reenacted on the first Sunday of May. Jongmyo Jaeryeak, the musical part of the ceremony, is produced by instruments, songs, and, dances that originated over 500 years ago.
Closed on Tuesdays
Tour Course Information
Course 1 (for 200 people or less)
Main gate - King Gongmin Shrine - Mangmyoru Pavilion - Hyangdaecheong - Jaegung Palace - Jeongjeon Hall - Yeongnyeongjeon Hall - Akgongcheong - Main gate
Course 2 (for more than 200 people)
Main gate - Jaegung Palace - Jeongjeon Hall - Yeongnyeongjeon Hall - Akgongcheong - Hyangdaecheong - Mangmyoru Pavilion - King Gongmin Shrine - Main gate
* Visitors may enter Jongmyo Shrine only in a guided tour group at specific times on weekdays (except Tuesdays) and Sundays. On Saturdays, visitors may enter at their leisure. Please refer to 'Interpretation Services Offered' for the group tour schedule.
* Visitors may be divided into two groups to avoid overcrowding.
* Up to 300 people are allowed inside Jongmyo Shrine at a time.
[Guided Tour] Please refer to 'Interpretation Services Offered'
[Free Tour] Mar.–Sep. 09:00-18:00 / Oct.-Feb. 09:00-17:30
(Free tours available on Saturdays only.)
※Last admission is one hour before closing.