(Photo Credit Uriminzokkiri)

Manwoltae is the site of the royal palace of Koryo dynasty (918–1392) in Songak-dong, Kaesong. The palace, erected in 919, had some characteristics in architecture.

It was magnificent and imposing with a total area of 1.25 million square metres.

The royal district alone occupied 390 000 square metres. Both the government district and the royal district were imposing--each had four main gates to the four cardinal directions and several minor gates inbetween.

Typically Sinbong Gate of the royal district, consisting of two storeys, was a big gate with three passages. It is said that the king and government officials used the gatehouse to see polo games, religious functions and lantern festivals, and inspect military troops.

The central group of buildings in Manwoltae was placed on a spectacular embankment. It looks soaring overwhelmingly as it has 33 stone stairs constructed precipitously.

It is to be easily understood how magnificent the royal palace was when the roofing tiles are studied. At that time green tiles were transported by oxen from the southern coastal areas--400 kilometres away from Kaesong--for the construction of the royal palace.

The site is also characterized by the fact that the structure of the royal palace and the layout of major buildings in it retain strong cultural influence from Koguryo.

The structure of the palace bears a close resemblance to those of Koguryo.

The Walled City of Pyongyang, capital of Koguryo, consisted of inner, central and outer forts. The inner fort belonged to the royal district, the central to the government district and the outer to residential quarters. The division of Koryo's royal palace into the royal and the government district was part of the heritage of Koguryo's culture. So was the layout of the major buildings. The Anhak Palace, Koguryo's royal palace, had the central architectural group in its centre, and palace buildings were found in the west and east.

The site of Manwoltae had a similar layout. Buildings in the Anhak Palace were arranged in the cross shape, and the major buildings in Manwoltae were of the same layout.

On June 23, 2013 Manwoltae was registered in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage as it is valuable cultural heritage that shows the Korean people's creative wisdom and talent.

(Uriminzokkiri - December 20, 2020)

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