About 15 miles from where we live is the city of Suwon. Unfortunately the drive with traffic is about an hour to venture those 15 miles and another 15 minutes to park so next time we will probably be taking the subway. Luckily the tension from the driving subsided when we saw the fortress grounds and were able to enjoy the warm, spring weather. (Well, maybe until Adam saw all of the stairs I was about to drag him up…)
A little history on Hwaseong Fortress – King Jeongjo was the 22nd king of the Joseon Dynasty, his reign being from 1777 to 1800. His idea to construct the fortress came from a variety of reasons including hopes to potentially move the capital from Seoul to Suwon as well as finding a safe place to house the remains of his father who was executed by being locked alive inside a rice chest by his own father. Yikes!
The construction of the fortress began in January of 1794 and was completed in September of 1796. The wall of the fortress is 3.57 miles in length and has walking trails that make it easy to walk the entire circumference. The photos above are from the Seojangdae, meaning western command post. Unfortunately the original structure was destroyed by an arsonist in 2006 so this is the reconstructed version built in 2007.
I was in awe of all of the colors and detail, absolutely stunning.
This is a view of the South-West Secret Gate. Once you enter the gate, there is a path that leads to the Seonam Gangnu, which is the south-western pavilion.
This is the path to the south-western pavilion.
Here is a detailed picture of the south-western pavilion. I didn’t capture a good picture of the entire pavilion because it was being occupied by some Korean ladies taking a rest from their walk. I didn’t want to look like a crazy stalker taking photos of them.
We made our way down these stairs to the North Gate. The gate (pictured below) was originally built for visitors from Seoul to enter Suwon with hopes of making Suwon the new capital. It is the largest such gate in South Korea.
The gate was destroyed during the Korean War but later reconstructed in the 1970’s.
Our last stop on our walking tour was the gorgeous palace built inside the fortress walls. This was King Jeongju’s second home when he was away from his palace in Seoul.
The palace (Hwaseong Haenggung) was built in 1789, unfortunately most it was later destroyed by fire in the early 20th century during Japan’s colonial rule of Korea. The restoration process began in 1996 and the palace became open to the public in 2003.
Fun Fact: In 1997, the Hwaseong Fortress was designated as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO.
I can’t seem to get enough of the beautiful detail.
(Side Note: Those candies in my hand…oh. my. goodness. I have found my new favorite candy. They are green tea Kit Kats from Japan. So good.)
Throughout the months of March to November you can find a variety of traditional performances being held on the plaza in front of the palace. We went on Easter so there wasn’t anything being held but we hope to venture back for a changing of the guard ceremony or one of the martial-arts displays.
As you can see, spring is here in Korea which means everything is blooming. There are cherry blossoms everywhere you turn and it is absolutely stunning. Next weekend Adam and I are venturing up to Seoul to do a little sightseeing, check out the cherry blossoms and try a coffee from the infamous Poop Cafe.
I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I’m off to do some laundry and Sunday cleaning. I am realizing as I type this in bed at 2:45 on a Sunday afternoon STILL in my pajamas that I have created a pile of Cheez-It crumbs around me. Adam must not find out about this. In my defense this is the only room that has a Samsung Virus Doctor in our apartment. My allergies have gotten the best of me and I am hoping the machine can help me feel better before school tomorrow.
Until next time – Elaine