The area around Seoul’s two oldest palaces – Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung – offers a glimpse into South Korea’s rich history. The palaces were built in the early 15th century, with the shrine of Jongmyo erected shortly afterwards. The Palace Quarter was at the helm of independence movements – the Seodaemun Prison is a relic of the Japanese annexation of 1910–45. After independence, Korea’s first president moved into the Blue House behind Gyeongbokgung. Wooden buildings from those formative decades can be seen in Insadong and Bukchon Hanok Village – areas filled with shops, art galleries, and restaurants.