Cheonggyecheon steam is a nice place to escape a busy Seoul lifestyle. In fact, steam is located just in the centre but somehow you don't feel like you are in the centre. Magic
There are many small bridges and every bridge have it own name! Like Gwanggyo, Supyogyo, Naraegyo, Baeogaedari ....
During summer time you can even go into the water , but not swim of course. So yes, can I name it a saving place? Probably can :-)
When I was researching for our trip I came across pictures of a fairly new attraction - Cheonggye Stream. I was not over interested as it was just a stream and its surroundings looked concretey and artificial, but to our surprise when we visited we really liked it..
The stream was at one time badly polluted and covered over by an elevated roadway. As part of an attempt to beautify Seoul the stream was cleaned up and the roadway removed. Walkways were build along each side of the stream.
When we arrived at the stream, we found a large proportion of Seoul's population had headed there, too. The walkways were lined with families, business men, groups of friends and young lovers out for a pleasant stroll or sitting down to a picnic lunch or simply taking a brief nap and enjoying the sunshine.
Several bridges cross over the stream and at various points you can cross by leaping over paving stones. The locals were so excited by this prospect that we watched several people, mainly children, fall in and get rescued.
Points of interest along the stream include manmade waterfalls, fountains, plastic flowers with giant eyeballs in their centre, a water powered gramophone repeatedly playing the same note over and over again and a display of brightly coloured stripy umbrellas suspended over one area of the stream.
A pleasant spot to bathe your feet in the cool water and watch the world pass by.
The Cheonggyecheon stream is one of those things one wishes all cities would have the courage to attempt. Once a creek flowing through what is now downtown Seoul, it has served as a drainage system, been an polluted, slum sided urban eyesore as the city population grew after the Korean War, before being covered in concrete for roads, and finally had an elevated highway constructed along its length.
So it was surprising to learn that the highway was removed, historic bridges were restored, and the 6km length was graced with artwork, sculpture, gardens and a linear park, providing the city with recreation space and lungs. It provides natural airconditioning, and makes the surrounding areas cooler in summer 9and warmer in winter!)
You'd think that removing the elevated highway might have caused traffic gridlock. But it did not. Instead, travel by car became quicker.
Cheonggyecheon stream is cooling downtown Seoul and there are more entertaining cultural events planned this year than ever before.
GWANGTONGGYO BRIDGE is the largest of the bridges crossing the Cheonggyecheon. Its original location was the palace that connected Jongno and Namdaemun. However, it was moved to its current location with the restoration. It was the greatest bridge in the capital and a place where royal carriages and envoys procession passed
BANCHADO OF KING JEONGJO’S ROYAL PARADE is a porcelain mural of king Jeongjo visiting his father’s tomb in Hwaseong (Suwon) on his mother’s 60th birthday. Banchado means a painting that tells various ceremonies of the royal court.
WALL OF CULTURE, which has harmony with nature as its theme, as well fountain and a small waterside stage.
HISTORICAL LAUNDRY SITE is the place where women washed their clothes and children washed hair hs been rebuilt between Dasangyo and Yeongdogyo bridges. Seoul housewives preferred washing the family laundry here even in winter because it always has sunshine.
WALL OF HOPE, the hope and wishes of 20.000 citizens are written on this wall. The wall is meant to induce participation from the citizen of Seoul, north Koreans, the and overseas Koreans expressing the sorrow of Korea’s South-North division.
In the past, CheongGyeCheon used to be a small clear water stream, flowing from east to west across the northern half of Seoul. During the 1970s, the stream was making way for paved roads and bridges to accommodates Seoul's growing traffic.
It was not until mid-2003 that the City of Seoul decided to restore CheongGyeCheon in order to create an environment-friendly city space and recover some of Seoul's capital historic and cultural importance. After a year and a half of immense construction works, the 360 billion won project (the largest urban renewal undertaking in Korean history!) was officially opened on October 1, 2005.
During the first 10 days more than 3 million visitors were counted... and looking at the crowds that walk along the stream (especially on weekends), it hasn't changed much since.
CheongGyeCheon has been included into the Seoul City Tour bus routing and most travel agents developed special packages for tourists. The government also plans to create special walking tours and hence, creating another tourist hub in Seoul.
I suggest to try walking/exploring the entire 5.8 km (most people just explore the Eastern part, starting at Gwanghwamun station), all the way to the CheongGyeCheon Museum.
For me: A must-see and extremely worthwhile experience!!!
For more pictures please refer to my Travelogue - CheongGyeCheon
The Cheonggye-cheon( Stream ) used to be a naturally formed stream before the Joseon Dynasty designated Seoul as its capital.
As the city had always been surrounded by mountains( Mt.Inwangsan, Mt.Bugaksan, Mt.Namsan ).
its water was flowing into downtown( Dongdaemun, Jungnangcheon and flows in to Hangang ).
It's is both a natural and artificial stream with a length of 8.14km ( Cheonggye Plaza ~ Jungnangcheon ).
In July 2003 ~ September 2005, The restoration of Cheonggye-cheon bring it back to life and
restores of park of the 600-years history and culture of Seoul.
Line 1: City Hall Stn, Exit 4
Line 2: Eulgiro 3-ga Stn, Exit 1,2
Line 3: Jongno 3-ga Stn, 13,14
Line 4: Dongdaemun Stadium Stn, Exit 1
Line 5: Gwanghwamun Stn, Exit 5
Cheonggyecheon is a stream flowing through downtown Seoul. It is about 5.8 km long and joins up Jungnangcheon which flows into the Han River. The history of the stream starts in 1394 when King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, moved to the capital. At this time the stream overflowed every time there was a heavy rain and already at this time there was talk of covering up the stream but the KIng wouldnt allow this as it was against nature to do so.
But Cheonggyecheon was covered with concrete in the end, around 1937, and in the late 1960's a highway was built over it. But in 2003 a restoration project was initiated to transform Seoul to a human-oriented and enviromental-friendly city. And about $900 millions later the stream had regained it's beauty once again.
On both sides of the stream there is a park following the water. Stone walkways keep people when they are hopping across the stream. These walkways also regulate the speed of the water flow.
- Cheonggye Square: where the stream begins a fountain proclaims that this is the start and there are two pillars with a bird, a cloud, a fish and a wave.
- Gwangtonggyo, built 1410 and Naraegyo Bridge. Plus 20 or more bridges spanning the stream.
- Jeongjo Banchado: a mural which is 2.4 meters width and 192 meters long.
- Cheonggye Stream Wash Area.
- Wall of Hope: This monument contains the signatures of 20,000 citizens who wrote and drew their hopes and desires to end the conflict between South and North Korea. The monument is 2.2 meters in height and 50 meters in length.
- Jonchigyogak: The remaining 3 bridge posts of the old Cheonggye overpass roads.
- Tunnel Fountain: The water spouting from the fountain creates a colorful tunnel with lighting.
Cheonggyecheon is amazing for a walk both at daytime and after dark when it is illuminated.
Before Autumn 2005, Chonggyechon Stream was covered in concrete, running under a major downtown thuroughfare constructed in the 1970's. Before that, Chonggyechon Stream spent its life as an open sewer. But now it is one of Seoul's newest attractions, a small but beautiful urban stream crossed by stepping stones, curling under brideges and lined on both sides by pedestrian walkways. On some days 100,000 Seoulites can be counted enjoying the pleasure of a stroll here, sheltered from the urban chaos above.
While the restoration of this stream was touted as a tourist attraction, I'm not sure that it will draw foreigners the same ay the palaces, Itaewon or the National Museum do. But it sure is and will continue to be popular with the locals, for whom I really think it was built. It's just another example of how the government of Seoul is paying more attention to life quality issues in their city.