There is something magical and almost fourteen feeling about parks in major cities. Even if the park doesn’t surround you by nature, they often still possess the power to transport us from the city’s noise to a place of peace.
This is true of Cheonggyecheon Stream 청계천. Once covered by a major highway Cheonggyecheon Stream has been restored. It carves out a canyon-like pocket surrounded by a concrete wall in the heart of Seoul. Every time you look up from watching the trains and ducks relax in the steam, you are reminded of the chaos of the looming skyscrapers that awaits you just outside the stream’s refuge.
The stream is a perfect spot for a stroll or runs any time of the year. If you’re lucky, you will catch the Lantern festival in November or a light show in the evening as you take in this beloved spot of Seoulites.
Another quite stop to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life is Park 탑골 공원. Small yet peaceful, this park holds weekend competitions where you will see old men on plastic stools surrounding a Go board playing with their friends. Inside the park, you’ll see statues depicting the Korean fight for independence from Japan since this park is the origin of the May 1st Movement in 1919.
The crowning jewel of this park is the 10 story pagoda that makes the spot of the former Wongaksa temple from the Joseon dynasty. This pagoda is truly an artistic masterpiece steeped in history land tells several stories of Buddha. Tapgol Park is a lovely stop if you need a break from the chaos of the city and want to relax.
For weary travelers wanting to reflect on them selves you need to go no further than Jogyesa Temple 조계사. Located in the city’s heart, it is the home of the Jogye order, one of the two main orders in Korean Buddhism. The Temple is very tourist friendly with people who will explain any questions you have about the temple and Buddhism. The temple also hosts weekend-long temple stays where you can experience a monk’s daily life while learning more about Buddhism and the Jogye order. If you are not wanting a long stay feel free to take off your shoes and enter the temple’s main hall where you can sit and reflect on your self surounded by those worshiping Buddah.
This temple is a beautiful example of Korean art and architecture, giving you a great representation of Bhudisum in Korea. If you only have time for one temple while visiting Seoul, South Korea, Jogyesa is a perfect place to go. If you’re lucky and you happen to be in Korea on Buddha’s Birthday, make it a point to experience the lantern festival here. You may get a chance to participate in the lantern parade that starts at city hall and ends here.
Next time your in Seoul alooking for something FREE to do visit one of theses places and your sure to leave relaxed.
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