The Resting Places of Kings and Queens - Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty

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The Joseon royal tombs are a collection of 40 tombs built from 1408 to 1966 in which 27 generations of Joseon kings and queens are buried. They have been well preserved and demonstrate Confucian values, funerary culture, geomancy, and architecture of the Joseon dynasty. They were selected as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2013.

Tombs played an important role in Joseon society, which was based on Confucianism. Ancestral rituals, which honored the dead, were held multiple times a year. The spirits of the deceased were believed to come back to their tombs during these rituals, and therefore, the tombs needed to be located in auspicious and beautiful locations and maintained in good condition in order to please the spirits. This was more so the case for royal tombs.

The royal tombs are located some distance outside the walls of the Joseon capital, Hanyang, but still within Gyeonggi-do Province (with one exception - the tomb of King Danjong in Yeongwol, Gangwon-do). Their locations were selected based on geomancy – in remote areas with mountains to the back and sides and flowing water to the front. The mound-shaped tombs were located atop a hill and surrounded by trees to protect them from the elements. There are various kinds of tombs styles which were chosen in harmony with the surrounding environment: single tomb (a single mound for a king or queen), twin tomb (king next to queen), triplet tomb (king and two queens), double tomb (king and queen buried in same mound), or “one site, two ridge” with tombs on adjacent hills sharing a ritual house. Each tomb has its own name ending in “-neung” or “-reung,” which means “royal tomb."

A royal tomb has two sections: the burial area and the ritual area. The burial area is located in the back of the complex on a hill, while the ritual area is located in the front, below the hill. The burial area includes the burial mound, a stone platform, a stone lantern, and stone figures of various animals, all surrounded by a low wall in the back and sides. Just below this are two rows of stone statues of civil and military officials and their horses. The ritual area includes a spiked, red entrance gate, a T-shaped ritual house, and various auxiliary buildings. The ritual house has a window along its back wall, through which the burial area can be seen as someone performs a ritual bow.

Locations of the Royal Tombs


Number Name Entombed Persons(s) Generation Date of Consturction Type
01 Paju Samneung Gongneung (恭陵) 예종원비 장순왕후 08 1461년, 1471년(봉릉) Single tomb
Sunneung (順陵) 성종원비 공혜왕후 09 1474년 Single tomb
Yeongneung (永陵) 진종소황제와 효순소황후 추존 왕:1728년, 비:1751년, 1776년(봉릉) Twin tomb
02 Paju Jangneung Jangneung (長陵) 인조와 원비 인렬왕후 16 1731년(이장) Double tomb
03 Gimpo Jangneung Jangneung (章陵) 원종과 인헌왕후 추존 왕:1627(이장), 비:1626, 1632년(봉릉) Twin tomb
04 Goyand Seooerung Changneung (昌陵) 예종과 계비 안순왕후 08 왕:1470년, 비:1499년 One site, two ridge
Gyeongneung (敬陵) 덕종과 소혜왕후 추존 왕:1457년, 비:1504년 One site, two ridge
Myeongneung (明陵) 숙종과 1계비 인현왕후, 2계비 인원왕후 19 왕:1720년, 1계비:1701년, 2계비:1757년 One site, two ridge
Ingneung (翼陵) 숙종원비 인경왕후 19 1680년 Single tomb
Hongneung (弘陵) 영조원비 정성왕후 21 1757년 Single tomb
05 Yangju Onneung Onneung (溫陵) 중종원비 단경왕후 11 1557년, 1739년(봉릉) Single tomb
06 Goyang Seosamneung Huireung (禧陵) 중종1계비 장경왕후 11 1537년(이장) Single tomb
Hyoreung (孝陵) 인종과 인성왕후 12 왕:1545년, 비:1578년 Twin tomb
Yereung (睿陵) 철종장황제와 철인장황후 25 왕:1864년, 비:1878년 Twin tomb
07 Seong Jeongneung Jeongneung(貞陵) 태조 계비 신덕고황후 01 1409년(이장) Single tomb
08 Seoul Taereung and Gangneung Taereung (泰陵) 중종2계비 문정왕후 11 1565년 Single tomb
Gangneung (康陵) 명종과 인순왕후 13 왕:1567년, 비:1575년 Twin tomb
09 Seong Uireung Uireung(懿陵) 경종과 계비 선의왕후 20 왕:1724년,비:1730년 One site, above and below
10 Guri Donggureung Geonweonneung (健元陵) 태조고황제 01 1408년 Single tomb
Hyeongneung(顯陵) 문종과 현덕왕후 05 왕:1452년, 비:1513년(이장) One site, two ridge
Gangneung (康陵) 선조와 원비 의인왕후, 계비 인목왕후 14 왕:1630년(이장), 원비:1600년, 계비:1632년 One site, two ridge
Hwireung (徽陵) 인조계비 장렬왕후 16 1688년 Single tomb
Sungneung (崇陵) 현종과 명성왕후 18 왕:1674년, 비:1684년 Twin tomb
Hyereung (惠陵) 경종원비 단의왕후 20 1718년, 1720년(봉릉) Single tomb
Wonneung (元陵) 영조와 계비 정순왕후 21 왕:1776년, 비:1805년 Twin tomb
Sureung (綏陵) 문조익황제와 신정익황후 추존 왕:1855년(이장), 비:1890년 Double tomb
Gyeongreung (景陵) 헌종성황제, 원비 효현성황후, 계비 효정성황후 24 왕:1849년, 원비:1843년, 계비:1904년 Triplet tomb
11 Seoul Seonneung and Jeongneung Seonneung (宣陵) 성종과 계비 정현왕후 09 왕:1495년, 비:1530년 One site, two ridge
Jeongneung (靖陵) 중종 11 1562년(이장) Single tomb
12 Seoul Heonneung and Inneung Heonneung (獻陵) 태종과 원경왕후 03 왕:1422년, 비:1420년 Twin tomb
Inneung (仁陵) 순조숙황제와 순원숙황후 23 왕:1856년(이장), 비:1857년 Double tomb
13 Namyangju Gwangneung Gwangneung (光陵) 세조와 정희왕후 07 왕:1468년, 비:1483년 One site, two ridge
14 Namyangju Sareung Sareung (思陵) 단종비 정순왕후 06 1531년, 1698년(봉릉) Single tomb
15 Namyangju Hongneung and Yureung Hongneung (洪陵) 고종태황제와 명성태황후 26 제:1919년, 후:1919년(이장) Double tomb
Yureung (裕陵) 순종효황제, 원후 순명효황후, 계후 순정효황후 27 제:1926년, 원후:1926년(이장), 계후:1966년 Double tomb
16 Hwaseong Yungneung and Geonneung Yungneung (隆陵) 장조의황제와 헌경의황후 추존 왕:1789년(이장), 비:1815년, 1899년(봉릉) Double tomb
Geonneung(健陵) 정조선황제와 효의선황후 22 왕:1821년(이장), 비:1821년 Double tomb
17 Yeoju Yeongneung and Yeongneung Yeongneung (英陵) 세종과 소헌왕후 04 1469년(이장) Double tomb
Yeongneung (寧陵) 효종과 인선왕후 17 왕:1673년(이장), 비:1674년 One site, above and below
18 Yeongwol Jangneung Jangneung (莊陵) 단종 06 1698년(봉릉) Single tomb
Located in Present-day North Korea Jereung (齊陵) 태조 원비 신의고황후 01 1391년, 1392년(봉릉) Single tomb
Hureung (厚陵) 정종과 정안왕후 02 왕:1420년, 비:1412년 Twin tomb
Misc. Tomb of Yeonsangun 연산군과 거창군부인 10 왕:1512년(이장), 비:1537년 Twin tomb
Misc. Tomb of Gwanghaegun 광해군과 문성군부인 15 왕:1641년, 비:1623년 Twin tomb

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References

  • Koehler, Robert. 2011. Joseon's Royal Heritage: 500 Years of Splendor. Seoul Selection. p. 56-71.