Seolleung / Jeongneung (a.k.a. Seonjeongneung) [UNESCO World Heritage] (서울 선릉과 정릉 [유네스코 세계문화유산])
1, Seolleung-ro 100-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
"The Stone Guards of the Royal Tombs"
Seonjeongneung is comprised of Seolleung Royal Tomb (선릉) and Jeongneung Royal Tomb (정릉). Located in downtown Seoul, this place offers tranquil and pleasant promenades for couples and office workers. Seonjeongneung houses the burial mounds of King Seongjong (1469-1494), his wife Queen Jeonghyeon, and King Jungjong (1506-1544) of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
Upon entering the grounds, you can see a red gate (the red colour denotes holiness) with a taegeuk (yin-yang) symbol. The stone paths leading to the sacrificial building are noteworthy because there are two stone paths—the elevated path is for the dead King and the lower one is for living people.
In the past, memorial rites were performed in the sacrificial building. Small sculptures on the eaves called Japsang were carved in the shape of animals, such as monkeys, and were believed to exorcise evil spirits. Next to the sacrificial building, there is a pavilion and a tombstone for the tomb of the king. Sculptures of sheep and tigers surround the tomb and are guardians of the deceased king. There is also a statue of a military officer bearing a sword. In front of the tomb is an outstanding sight called 'Mangjuseok,' which is a pair of stones designed to guide the spirit of the king to his tomb. Unlike the tombs of the kings, the queen’s tomb, Wanghureung, is simple. It doesn’t have any pavilions or sacrificial buildings, and is surrounded only by stone sculptures as guardians.
Seonjeongneung has a lush forest, and benches on the promenade provide an ideal place to relax. There are numerous small hills with clusters of trees that create a border between the mystery and serenity of the royal tombs and the hustle and bustle of downtown Seoul.