Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hwaseong Fortress - Suwon

So, I’ve lived in Suwon for around 5 years now but just started this blog in December of 2010. I’ve been to more places than I’ve recently started documenting, so I decided to start posting some of my older pics about places and such and blogging about them. I'm going to start with one of my favorite places in Suwon even though it threatens to kill me each time I go to it: Hwaseong Fortress.

Back when I first got to Korea in 2007, my fellow Avalon teachers and I decided to walk to the fortress since we didn't live too far away from it. Here are a couple of pics from the footbridge over the road to get to the fortress.

Part of the fortress

First, let's give a bit of history of the fortress. King Jeongjo of the Joseon dynasty had the fortress built in the late 18th century as a preparation to move the capital of Korea to Suwon and to house the remains of his father, who was murdered by his own father (King Jeongjo's grandfather).

The fortress wall is 3.57 miles long (5.74 km) and can be hiked within a few hours. Parts of the wall were damaged during the Japanese occupation of Korea and during the Korean War, as well as just by natural wear and tear, but nearly all of the fortress has been restored to its original condition. This is due mostly to the excellent documentation left behind by the architect, Jeong Yak-yeong. Only a small portion of the southern part of the fortress has not been restored. The fortress enclosed what used to be the limits of Suwon and was considered a highly defensible area. Suwon's main river, Suwoncheon, also flows through the middle of the fortress.

Some of the main structures include gates built on the four cardinal points: Janganmun (north), Changnyongmun (east), Paldalmun (south), and Hwaseomun (west). Hwaseong Fortress was a great influence of Korean architecture and design in the follow years. The building of this fortress is also considered to be one of the first times a pulley system was used to lift materials.

Map of the fortress
Inside the fortress - yes, that is a giant, golden, Buddha statue
The east gate
The ceiling inside the east gate - all of the gates have the same painting
See that structure at the top left corner of the gray block? That's the bell tower on top of the mountain and our destination.
A flag in the fortress
View across at the bell tower but at night
Another flag in the fortress
One of the turrets with Suwon in the background
A turret door
The bell tower
A gate
Looking along part of the wall
A turret, I think
The top part of a turret, I think
Suwon at night
Going back across the footbridge at night

All along the fortress, there are also these informational signs posted to tell you more about the structure. Here are a few of those: