Friday, June 07, 2013

Sungnyemun Gate - Finished at Last

Ever since the 2008 arson fire that destroyed the wooden portion of Seoul's landmark, the nation has been anxiously anticipating the re-opening of the Sungnyemun Gate. Also known as the Namdaemun Gate due to its proximity with the famous market located nearby, this National Treasure #1 was one of eight gates that comprised the fortress walls originally surrounding the capital of the Joseon Dynasty. Originally constructed in 1398, it was rebuilt in 1447, the Sungnyemun Gate, meaning "Gate of Exalted Ceremonies," was used to welcome foreign emissaries as well as to keep out Siberian Tigers. During the early 20th century, the Japanese colonialists demolished the fortress walls surrounding the gate to ease traffic problems. During the Korean war, the gate was heavily damaged and was restored in 1963. Further renovations were completed just two years prior to the arson.

Adherence to the original colors, carvings, and designs was practiced in reconstruction of the wooden structure. Over 22,000 ceramic roof tiles, fired in a traditional kiln were also included to keep the gate as authentic as possible. In early May, the public opening ceremony was held.

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