Atop a hill in an outer district of Naha City, Shuri Castle is an ancient historical monument that represents the reign of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom in Okinawa. Before Okinawa became an official prefecture of Japan in 1879, Shuri Castle served as the Ryukyu Kingdom’s political center for several centuries and housed the Ryukyu kings. Originally built in the late 1300s, much of Shuri Castle was destroyed by fire and war throughout history, with the most recent destruction caused during World War II. Most buildings today are convincing reconstructions, but the outer walls stand tall, filled with history and pride. The intricate, regal design of the castle’s main Seiden Hall is profoundly unlike mainland Japan. Its decorative vermillion gates and luxurious architectural design have earned it status as a landmark of Okinawa, with Naha Port just beyond. The museum inside the castle displays the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom, with historical artifacts and replicas of objects used by royalty. Shuri Castle has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the castles of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
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