Going to the Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon was surprisingly easy. So, let’s start with:
How to go there?
Take Line 1 going to Suwon Station. Get off Exit 4. Go straight and you won’t miss the Bus Station. Take Bus No. 11, 13 or 13-4. We got off the Pal Dal Mun Bus Stop.
As soon as you see the gate above, you’ll know that it is already the Pal Dal Mun Bus Stop. It is also the bus stop going to Suwon’s Traditional Market.
I love it that we took this as our starting point. We were 2 families who went there and we had 4 elementary kids with us. We gave them a taste of a traditional and very provincial Korea. As we were passing by the market, we saw a table selling ttok (we went there on Oct 3, day before Chuseok) and they were surely busy. We got a bonus with this ajosshi:
He was pounding on the flour that the ladies on the table will make make as “ttok”. We continued on our leisurely pace, allowing the kids to savor the experience. Facing the 지동 Market,
we turned left and immediately saw part of the Fortress Wall already:
Following the wall, you might feel like it’s forever. The Hwaseong Fortress stretches for a total of 5.52km. But take in your surroundings and and check on the snippets of information available on the walls. My biggest surprise was this imposing structure:
Reality check, I was still in Suwon. This is the magnificent Suwon Jeil Church, a Baptist church, in the area.
At last, we arrived at the Hwaseong Yeonmudae Post!
The children (and adults, wink) were excited to try archery.
But there were just so many people, we gave up on it and decided to just enjoy the place. How could there be so many people on a Korean holiday where they were supposed to be busy preparing for the next day’s big celebration? Oh well, Korea is changing:-).
The children wanted to ride the trolley but I was relieved we weren’t able to. The design of the trolley is inspired by the royal vehicle used by King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty. It looks grand and inviting but…
We walked and walked and got to see what makes this a remarkable fortress.
The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was designated as the Historic Site No. 3 in January 1963. In December 1997, it was registered as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. If we rode the trolley, I will be missing out on these:
The fortress was constructed by Joseon Dynasty’s 22nd king, King Jeongjo to show his filial piety to his father and as a fortress of national defense.
The fortress wall was built using Seokjae and Jeondol (bricks) and the holes between the bricks are just big enough to fire guns, arrows, or long spears through in case of an attack. (source)
Believe it or not, but this Zelkova Tree is well-preserved and protected. This is a 600-year old tree which is believed to have protected Suwon even before the construction of the Fortress.
This Zelkova Tree can be found at the Hwaseong Haenggung. Little did we know that walking a little bit further led us to where we started, the Pal Dal Mun Gate. We actually circled Suwon City.
By the time we finished, our elementary kids were just beginning to feel tired. It was one of the best days of walking with our sons and their friends. We were real tourists who navigated our own Walking Tour of Suwon.
This video sums up our day:
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