Suwon fortress is really a wall that surrounds most of the old city. Small forts connect the sections of wall with one fort atop a nearby hill. Not nearly as grand as the great wall of china, but it is impressive in its own right and worth seeing if around Suwon. Takes at least a couple hours to walk around the entire wall (perhaps longer as its been a year since I did it). At night many of the forts are lit up with the summit especially bright.
It's a good long walk but it's well worth it. The walk itself is about 2 hours around the entire city wall. The best place to start is at the south gate.
Bring some good hiking boots, it's alot of uphill then downhill.
The wall is pretty impressive. I meet another traveller and he said he went to the great wall of China, But this wall is way better. I have no clue i've never been to the great wall of china. This is the highlight of Suwon. I'm amazied that more tourists don't come though here.
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.
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
The Divine Tree stands in the courtyard of Hwaseong Haenggung. It is a Sawleaf Zelkova tree, known as Neutinamu in Korean, and it is 600 years old. The tree is 30m high and 6m in circumference. It is considered to be the divine protector of Suwon. I t was believed that cutting the branches or plucking the leaves from this holy tree would anger the gods and bring misfortune to Suwon. It was also believed that touching the tree and praying could make wishes come true.
Today, visitors pay for a wish by dropping a coin into a bowl inside a hollow in the tree trunk. They then write their wish on paper and tie it to one of the ropes that encircle the tree. I did it too.
Seoammun in the south west secret gate of Hwaseong Fortress. It is one of four secret gates that were hidden in indented parts of the wall, to allow defenders to secretly receive supplies and reinforcements and to launch surprise counterattacks. Standing on top of it is a sentry post. Actually, I didn't look very secret at all to me. I think it has been embellished quite a bit recently to make it more attractive.
The great Bell of Hyoweon was made in 1991 as a symbol of the city to replace the old bronze bell of Pladalmun gate, which was so badly cracked and damaged that it could no longer be rung. The bell is 3.5 m high and 2.5 m in diameter.
You must pay 1,000 won at the kiosk next to it, if you wish to ring the bell. You are then entitled to three rings and three wishes. At the first ring you should wish for your parents' health, the second for your children and other family members' health and the third for your own.
Seobuk Gangno, the Northwest Angle Tower, stands above the Hwaseomun Gate. It was used as a watchtower and the first story of the two-storey tower has ondol, underfloor heating, so the off-duty troops could sleep there in winter.
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. "
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.
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.
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.
Hwaseong Fortress is a World Heritage site. The wall stretches for 5.7 kilometres and a walk around it takes about two hours. There are interesting command posts, entrance gates and observation towers to encounter along the way. The walk starts at Paldalmun in Suwon. Follow the signs from here and walk up Paldalsan. It's quite a strenuous start to the walk because it is 143 metres high. There is a tourist information booth situated at the foot of Paldalsan. Personally I didn't have time for the whole walk because I started late in the afternoon and also it started raining. I made it as far as the Bell of Hyowon before turning back.
Hwaseong Fortress has ten bastions, or chi, protruding out from the wall to help defenders repel enemy troops approaching from the left and right sides, as well as for regular frontal attacks. They also served as watchtowers. They are massive structures with parapets and gun embrasures.
The one in the photo is Seosam chi, the West Third Bastion.
Seonodae, the West Multiple-Arrow-Launcher platform, is an impressive, octagonal, brick tower, which was used as a watchtower and also, as it name suggests, to enable multiple weaponry to be brought to bear on the enemy below.