Photo: Hwaseong Fortress
Location: Suwon, Gyeonggi-do
Spanning over 5.74 kilometers and reaching a height of 4 to 6 meters, Hwaseong Fortress located in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do is a living remnant of the nation's proud history, representing the Joseon Dynasty of the 18th century. Built by King Jeongjo (Joseon's 22nd king) in 1796 as an act of filial devotion to his father, Crown Prince Jangheon (also known as Sadoseja), and in an effort to make Suwon the second capital city, he ordered the relocation of his father's tomb, as well as many of the nation's resources.
Being the world's first planned city, Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is highly praised by experts for its thorough and systematic designs compared with other structures of the time, valid even today. The construction methods used encompass the strong points of both Asian and Western elements together. In addition, the fortress was built in good harmony with the surrounding nature, implementing its geological advantage wisely for strategic defense rather than destroying it. There are ever more secrets being unveiled about Hwaseong Fortress, and to appreciate these valuable aspects, UNESCO enlisted Hwaseong Fortress on the World's Cultural Heritage List in the year 1997.
The magnitude of the construction project was enormous, with over 700,000 laborers working on the project from January 1794 to September 1796. After the completion, 5,000 troops belonging to the royal guard unit were stationed in the fortress. Though Hwaseong Fortress ultimately failed to become the second capital of the Joseon Dynasty, it remains a symbol of both the ingenuity and technological advancements of the period.
Photo: Paldalmun Gate (left) / Seobuk Gongsimdon Tower (right)
Paldalmun Gate is the southern gate of Hwaseong Fortress, designated National Treasure No. 402, and is unique in that it is detached from the rest of the gates. Being located in the middle of the busy city, the gate was encircled by a crescent-shaped Ongseong Wall to prevent the enemy from attacking the fortress. Thanks to this structure, Paldalmun Gate was able to keep its original shape, boasting a mesmerizing scene after sunset.
Seobuk Gongsimdon Tower is another structure designated as a national treasure. Made with bricks, it served as a major guard point, defending against attacks from the Hwaseomun direction. The walls feature arrow-slots to give soldiers a sort of built-in shield, while shooting firearms and canons through the holes created a way to prevent soldier casualties.
Photo: Suwon Banghwasuryujeong Pavillion (left) / Hwaseomun Gate (right)
Banghwasuryujeong Pavillion (interchangeably called Dongbuk Gangnu), sits above Yongyeon Pond, providing great scenery, and functions as a strategic military position. Standing at the east side of Hwahongmun Gate, this northeast pavilion commands a breathtaking view over the city, exhibiting an exquisite beauty and tranquility found nowhere else.
Hwaseomun is the western gate of Hwaseong, which previously served as the major route connecting the center of Suwon with Namyangman Bay and the western coast (Seohae). Designated National Treasure No. 403, this gate is also surrounded by an ongseong wall, though slightly different from the one that circles Paldalmun, being open on one side.
* This column was last updated in September 2015, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.
<Last updated on September 30, 2015>