Wongudan Altar, located in Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea, was built in
1897 to serve as a site for the performance of the rite of heaven. The
site was also known by other names, such as Hwangudan (환구단,
圜丘壇), Jecheondan (제천단, 祭天壇) and Wondan (원단,
Wongudan was designated South Korea's Historic Site
No. 157 on July 15, 1967.
The Rite of Heaven was performed during the pre-Three Kingdoms period.
Goryeo Dynasty, King Seongjong was the first of the Goryeo
kings to perform the rite, designed to ensure a bountiful harvest.
King Seongjong standardized the Wonguje rituals. During the Goryeo
Dynasty, the practice was abolished. King Sejo of the Joseon Dynasty
briefly restarted the rite but stopped the practice in the tenth year
of his reign in 1464.
The ritual was restarted again when King Gojong proclaimed the Korean
Empire in 1897, but it was subsequently abolished by the Japanese
colonial government in 1910.
Wongudan was built in 1897. The site of the complex sat between Namsan
and Bukhansan, and was considered highly auspicious by geomancers. The
altar complex was also designed to mimic natural elements such as the
sun and moon. It was a three-story altar made of granite and was used
for animal sacrifice. The top center of the altar held a conical
yellow-roofed building. The altar was destroyed by the Japanese in
1913. Today, the Hwanggungu (Yellow Palace Shrine), a three-storied
octagonal shrine built in 1899, remains along with three plaster drums
with dragon decorations, and a gate. The Hwangungu, built on the north
side of the altar complex, was designed for worshiping of Heaven and
respecting Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty. The Gocheonje
ritual was revived in 2002 with the intention of annual performance as
a revival of Korean cultural heritage.
The imperial Japanese built the Railroad Chosun Hotel in the area
where they had demolished
Wongudan Altar. In 1968, that hotel was
demolished and the Westin Chosun Hotel was built in its place. The
Hwangungu still stands in the hotel complex today and although it is
not a well known tourist site, it is popular with the guests of the
2 See also
4 External links
The three-story Hwangungu is the largest altar of the
Wongudan in 1925.
Wongudan in 2011.
Temple of Heaven, Beijing
^ Cyber Tour into Cultutural Properties
Cultural Heritage Online: Wongudan
Seoul, Jung-gu Culture & Tourism
Asian Historical Architecture:
An image of the old
South Korea portal
Coordinates: 37°33′54.19″N 126°58′47.46″E /
37.5650528°N 126.9798500°E / 37.56