Spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. There are plenty of parks and urban spaces in Seoul to enjoy a walk. However, if you’re looking for something with a little more meaning, plan a trip along the Hanyangdoseong, Seoul City Wall. You’ll feel Korea’s history and culture come to life as you walk along paths treaded on by people from the Joseon dynasty.
The Seoul City Wall was built to protect the capital city of the Joseon dynasty, then called Hanyang. This 18.6-kilometer-long wall follows the ridges of Inwangsan, Baegaksan (Bugaksan), Naksan, and Namsan Mountains. The wall can be walked along the six trails of Baegak, Naksan, Heunginjimun, Namsan (Mongmyeoksan), Sungnyemun, and Inwangsan Sections.
Hanyangdoseong, Seoul City Wall
The Sungnyemun Section is a great way to see traces of the old wall in the new city. During the early 20th century, many parts of the city wall were damaged in the process of urbanization. However, some sections were restored, and the combination of damaged sections along with near-perfect reconstructions will leave you in awe. This section of the Seoul City Wall features many cultural assets of Korea’s modern history, such as former foreign legation offices, schools, and churches.
Among the many heritages you will see along this section, Sungnyemun Gate, National Treasure No. 1, is by far the most outstanding. If you would like to start walking from the gate, the fastest way to get to the trail is by coming out of Exit 5 at Hyehwa Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) and passing through Namdaemun Market.
The Heunginjimun Section starts from Heunginjimun Gate (Dongdaemun Gate) and ends at Gwanghuimun Gate. Along this trail, you can see modern attractions like the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, and enjoy shopping at Dongdaemun, Pyounghwa, or Bangsan Markets.
The Naksan Section is a great choice for beginners and those looking for a simple walk. The course features a simple walking trail from Hyehwamun Gate, past Naksan Mountain to Heunginjimun Gate. This section is characterized by small neighborhoods built right up against the wall.
The Namsan, or Mongmyeoksan, Section connects Jangchung Gymnasium with Baekbeom Square. The full course takes about three hours to walk, but you won’t have time to feel bored with all the things to see along the way. The highlight of this course among tourists is walking to Namsan Seoul Tower and Namsan Octagonal Pavilion. Of course, if you want to take a shortcut, you can always ride the cable car.
This section is especially popular in spring and early summer, when it is vibrant with new green leaves and sprouts. The area behind Jangchung Gymnasium in particular creates a beautiful harmony between the greenery and the wall.
The Inwangsan Section is comparatively steep, but is popular for its panoramic views of the city. Walking along this trail can be made more fun by looking out for the many uniquely shaped rock formations, such as Seonbawi or Chimabawi Rocks. Coming down from the mountain, the trail passes popular attractions like the neighborhoods of Buam-dong and the hanok village to the west of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
The Baegak Section starts from Changuimun Gate and passes over Baegansan Mountain to Hyehwamun Gate. This section is the highest and most difficult of all the Hansangdoseong trails, preferred by hiking enthusiast.
The stones used to build the Seoul City Wall have weathered much throughout the years. Some damaged sections were repaired, while others were entirely reconstructed. As you walk along the trail, try and see if you can spot the difference in stone quality among different sections.
If it is your first time walking along the Seoul City Wall, we recommend starting out with the Naksan Section. The trail is relatively flat, with few sections of mountainous terrain, making it one of the easiest courses. If you start from Hyehwamun Gate, you can also visit the Hanyangdoseong Exhibition & Visitors Center to pick up a trail map, pamphlet, and art catalogue.
The main attractions you might see while walking the Naksan Mountain Trail are Ihwa Village and Seoul City Wall Museum. Ihwa Village offers over 30 galleries, museums, and cafés in addition to many beautiful murals. Near the end of the trail, you can visit the Seoul City Wall Museum to learn about the 600-year history of the wall as well as its value as a cultural heritage.
If you have half a day to spare, challenge yourself to complete the Namsan Section! In addition to seeing the popular Namsan Seoul Tower, you can also stop for jokbal (pig’s trotters) and bindaetteok (mung bean pancake) at Jangchung-dong Jokbal Street, famous among Koreans.
Another attraction along the trail is Namsan (Mongmyeoksan) Beacon Mound Site. Previously called Gyeongbongsu, it worked as the commanding beacon for signals nationwide. Depending on the severity of the emergency, beacons situated throughout the country were used to light either smoke signals or fire to pass on the message to the capital.
Jamdubong Photo Island is a hidden attraction, located in the middle of the park around Namsan Seoul Tower. Many people just walk past without knowing it, but the Seoul nightscape from here is unparalleled. Unlike at the peak of Namsan Mountain where the view of the city is obstructed by trees, this hidden spot offers a clear panoramic view of Seoul, perfect as a photo backdrop.
Namsan Beacon Mound Site
Jamdubong Photo Island
* This column was last updated in April 2021, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.