Visiting Suwon Hwaseong Fortress in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

As a travel blogger, I have seen a lot of fortresses around the world. We all generally know what fortresses are for, and what their purposes have been for the people in our histories, but each fortress has a different story to tell—from the way each has been built to the façade and how they are preserved through the years.

Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon South Korea
Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon South Korea


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We left Korean Folk Village at around 4 in the afternoon to head for Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. It took us less than an hour to get to the latter.

Hwaseong Fortress : A World Heritage Site

The 5km-wide Hwaseong Fortress is the fortress of Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do. Its construction, which was built during the Josen Dynasty (1392-1910), served not only as a symbol for the power of the reigning monarchs, but also for the flourishing economic condition of the province. The fortress also houses military facilities, which was a necessity for most cities and provinces not only in 1790s South Korea but also in the territorial-expansion-laden world.

Pagoda in Suwon Fortress
Pagoda in Suwon Fortress

The fortress is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site since December 1997.

View of the bustling city from the old walls of the Hwaseong Fortress
View of the bustling city from the old walls of the Hwaseong Fortress

During its construction in the 1790s, what was perhaps most interesting was that Jeong Yak-Yong, one of the supervising engineers that made the construction of the fortress possible, invented the machine called a “Geojunggi”, which was sort of like a pulley in the ancient times. It aided in carrying and moving around heavy materials which was everything that the fortress was made of. I noticed that “Geojunggi” sounded a lot like the modern name of the province, “Gyeonggi”. I am not sure if that was made on purpose, but I believed that it was just one of the few stories that the fortress had to tell.

Pagoda at the top of the Fortress overlooking Suwon
Pagoda at the top of the Fortress overlooking Suwon

We walked around Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Some people might find walking around a certain place boring and unexciting, but doing so in the fortress was actually quite fruitful. There was so much for the eyes to see, and I admit that my camera alone could not capture the beauty of the place. The weather was also perfect for walking — it was autumn when I visited here — so walking around was not only relaxing, it also made me appreciate the place more.

Guided walking tour at Suwon Hwaseong Ancient Fortress
Guided walking tour at Suwon Hwaseong Ancient Fortress

The walls were massive and elevated. They weren’t as tall as the walls of the Great Wall of China, but the walls of the fortress provided a great panoramic view of the City and the nearby provinces. The walls were massive and elevated for a reason, of course. There were a lot of holes in between the bricks of the walls, and I figured that the holes served as the passageway of the equally massive machine guns and canons of that era. Today the weathered walls and the dull glow of their antiquity told me yet another story.

Entrance to Dongporu
Entrance to Dongporu by Jpbarrass Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

A few faint traces of war and the turbulence of the province during that era were visible within the walls of the fortress. Our tour guide told us that there were several facilities in the fortress (Paldalmun to Dongnamgakru) that were irreparable because of the aftermath of war. It was sad that the people of today would never see the glory of those fallen infrastructures, but I figured that, sometimes, there are some things that have to be left behind in history while the rest have to carry on to tell everyone their stories.

North-East Observation Tower
North-East Observation Tower by Marcopolis Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

After almost two hours of appreciating the fortress and visiting some of the pagodas, we gathered at the west gate entrance.

Hwaseomun, Bukseo Poru, Buk Poru and Janganmun
Hwaseomun, Bukseo Poru, Buk Poru and Janganmun by Jpbarrass. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

It was almost 6 PM when we all gathered to leave. The air was already becoming cold, and as we watched a group of Chinese tourists try out Archery (which was one of the optional activities tourists of the fortress can engage in), we said good bye to the fortress of many stories.

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Group Photo at Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

We were told that a variety of performances were held every day during the autumn season for the Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival, and that gave more reason to come back to South Korea during autumn again next time. I might also try Archery too, next time!

East Pole of Hwaseong Fortress
East Pole of Hwaseong Fortress

Our next destination was Bonsuwon, where we would be having our early Galbi dinner with lots of flavorful, smoky, Korean Beef Barbeque.

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How to get to Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

  • To reach Suwon-si Take the Suwon Subway Line 1, and get off at Suwon Station.
  • From Seoul Station or Yeongdeungpo Station, get off at Suwon Station (30 minutes).
  • To reach Hwaseong Fortress Cross the road from Suwon Station and take bus 7 or 5. Get off at the Jangan Park stop (30 minutes).

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Hwaseong Fortress
Address: 11 Haenggung-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Province: Gyeonggi Province

Special thanks to Korea Tourism Organization and AirAsia for making this trip possible.

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