suwon

Peering through Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, South Korea

 

How many cities can you encircle by foot on a completed city wall? Not many. I first think about Europe when I hear anything about city walls. But this one I visited is in Asia. South Korea to be exact. Suwan is the city.

 

Suwon is a city of over one million people located about an hour south of Seoul. It is the capital of Gyeonggi Province and makes a great day trip out from Seoul.

 

suwon

Hwahongmun at Suwon Fortress

 

Hwaseong Fortress (Suwon Fortress)

 

What I am referring to as a city wall, is actually a fortress. It very much resembles more of what I think of as a fortification or town ramparts. Hwaseon Fortress was built over a span of two years and nine months, a very impressive feat. It was finished by 1796.

 

The fortress wall extends for 5.7 kilometers around Suwon. It varies between 4 to 6 meters in height. It was actually built with the intention of moving the national capital to Suwon, but King Jeongjo died before his plan was realized. Along the length of the wall, four main gates and numerous parapets, pavilions, towers, sentry positions, command posts, gun batteries, and one fire beacon site stand.

 

Although most of the fortress has been reconstructed, there are still original sections. It is difficult to tell where the original sections are. The structures had been collapsing for years, most notably during the Korean War. Restoration began in 1975 and in 1997 Hwaseon Fortress was designated a World Heritage Site.

 

Hwaseong Fortress extending through the modern city of Suwon.

Hwaseong Fortress extending through the modern city of Suwon.

 

As you’re making your way around the wall, stop at Yeonmudae Tourist Information Center (near Dog Jangdae) and try your hand at archery.  I hadn’t shot a bow and arrow since Boy Scout camp and it was a good fun.

 

The ramparts of Suwon, with their state of the art stone and brick work, are considered a masterpiece of Korean fortress construction. Excellent views over the city can be had from several areas along the walls. The best is perhaps from Seojangdae.

 

View the rest of the photos from Suwan Hwaseong Fortress:

 

Details of a painted wall.

Details of a painted wall.

 

The walls of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

Janganmun Gate od Suwon Fortress.

Janganmun Gate od Suwon Fortress.

 

Suwan Hwaseong Fortress (3)

 

Ceiling detail along the fortress.

Ceiling detail along the fortress.

 

Suwon Hwaseong

 

Fire beacon

Fire beacon

 

Door detail from Suwon Fortress

Door detail from Suwon Fortress

 

Suwan Hwaseong Fortress door

A decorative door.

 

DongJangdae of Suwon Fortress

DongJangdae of Suwon Fortress

 

Walking along Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon close to sunset.

Walking along Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon close to sunset.