This is the palace where King Jeongjo stayed when he visited Suwon. The original eighteenth century palace, built by King Jeongjo, was destroyed by the Japanese. But, it has recently been restored to its original condition. It is the best place to start a walking tour of Hwaseong Fortress.
Admission: 1,000 won
Hwaseong Fortress is actually a circular wall surrounding the old city. It stands on Mount Paldalsan. Around it there are numerous bastions, towers and gates. The construction of the fortress was initiated by King Jeongjo, the 22nd king of the Joseon dynasty, in January, 1794 and it was completed in September, 1796. It was designed to defend the southern approach to the capital, primarily against the old enemy, theJapanese. Hwaseong Fortress was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.
The wall is nearly 6km long, and the pathway inside the wall is considerably longer. Sometimes there are steep, stone steps to climb up and down and in other places, a dirt track. If you are planning to take photographs along the way, the walk will take you around 3 hours, not the 2 it says in the guide books.
The Korean Folk Village is a great park on the outskirts of Suwon that displays traditional Korean architecture, farming, food, clothing and other things in a real setting (rather than a museum). Watch as the Koreans in traditional clothing cook food in their wood roofed houses. Try traditional Korean candies and other foods. KFV has several restaurants and gift shops as well.
It's a great place for a stroll.
I was told it's the only thing to see in Suwon. Well, I don't know for sure, but none mentioned anything else. I'm sure there's enough information about Hwaseon already, so just a couple of additional pictures.
It's a museum village where traditional Korean houses etc. are collected. There are a lot of souvenirs of course and some shows every day. It's just a nice place to walk and look around, it's one of my most pleasant memories about my first trip to Korea.
The Korean film Dae Jang Geum (Jewel of the Palace) capture many audiences in Korea as well as the rest of east Asia when it was shown of TV in 2005. One of the filming site of this film is within the cultural village of Suwon, so do drop by to have a look.
Seojangdae is the Western Command Post of Hwaseong Fortress. This was the general headquarters from which the general commanded his troops. It was built on the highest point of the fortress, offering an unobstructed view in all directions.
King Jeongjo also used this command post to survey military drills.
UPDATE: Korea Herald May 2, 2006
"National heritage site destroyed by fire"
"A fire started by a drunken man yesterday destroyed part of an 18th-century fortress, a World Cultural Heritage site designated by the UNESCO, police in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province said yesterday.
The man set fire to Seojangdae, a military command post attached to the famed Hwaseong Fortress, at 1:35 a.m. The fire destroyed the upper floor of the two-story pavilion-type wooden structure before it was extinguished 20 minutes later.
About 40 firefighters and 10 fire trucks were dispatched to control the blaze.
Police said there were no fire extinguishers near the building although some maintenance men tried to control the fire before the firefighters arrived.
This is the second time in 10 years that the building has been damaged by fire. The building was restored after it was destroyed in 1996.
The management office of the fortress estimates the restoration will cost more than 1 billion won.
Police said that the arson suspect was intoxicated and started the fire with a lighter by setting his clothes and underwear on fire and throwing them on the ground of the second floor of the wooden structure. The 24-year-old man was standing in front of the building watching it burning when the police arrested him.
The suspect, identified only by his family name Ahn, has confessed to having committed the arson out of frustration from his financial difficulties, police said.
The Hwaseong Fortress is one of Korea's best surviving remnants of the Joseon era and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. "
If possible, try to visit one of the Buddhist temples. There are several around the city and some are open to public visits. These pictures were taken from a convent in the area. Unfortunately, I do not have the details of the temple or who to contact to visit, but this is just an example of what you might see.
Nam-Poru is the fort on the southern side, but possibly somewhat redundant because of the Seonamgangnu ridge above.
The pine trees that cover the whole of the ridge are particularly dense on this southern slope leading down towads Padalmun.
Suwon Jeil Church is one of the most imprsssive buildings in the city. When you look out from the east walls of Hwaseong Fortress, two buildings will immediately catch your eye: the World Cup Stadium and Suwon Jeil Church.
Janganmun, the North Gate, is one of the four great fortress gates. It was completed in 1794. The gate was largely destroyed during the Korean War of 1950-53, and restored to its original condition in 1976.
Paldalmun Gate, the South Gate, is one of the four great entrance gates to the fortress. It stands alone, as this is the final section of the restored fortress wall yet to be completed. Next to it is the open-air Paldalmun Market.
Dongbuk Gongsimdon, the Northeast Observation Tower is one of the most outstanding features of Hwaseong Fortress. It is a massive, oval brick tower. A ladder spirals up the interior wall, so that lookouts could climb up tp observe the enemy through gun embrasures.
Seobuk Gongsimdon, the Northwest Observation Tower, is one of two great observation towers in the fortress. It is built with bricks and has a three-storey wooden interior. Gun embrasures in its walls allowed lookouts to observe enemy movements and, of course, to fire down at them.
Hwaseonum is the West Gate of the fortress. It was built in 1795 and is protected by semicircular walls, placed in front of it. Of the fortresses four great gates, this is the one considered to be closest to its original shape.