World Cultural Heritage Site Tour
About World Heritage
Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple | Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories of the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks |
Jongmyo Shrine | Changdeokgung Palace Complex | Hwaseong Fortress | Gyeongju Historic Areas | Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites |
Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes | Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty | Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong | Namhansanseong |
Baekje Historic Areas
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was constructed by king Jeongjo (reigning 1777~1800), the 22nd king of Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) after moving the tomb
of his father Sadoseja, Crown Prince, who had been victimized in faction struggles in the court, and put inside a rice chest and had died in it, from
Mt. Baebong, Yangju, to Mt. Hwa, Suwon. and the moving of the local government headquarters from near Mt. hwa to the current location under Mt.
Paldal, Suwon. The mountain was considered as the best place to build tombs according to the theory of geomancy in those days.
There were multiple reasons for constructing the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. The most important reason was King Jeongjo's filial piety to his father.
But, there were other reasons: his political strategy to eradicate faction struggles and establish the king-led politics; use of it as a fortress of national
defense to the south.
Using Seonghwajuryak (1793) written by Jeong Yak Yong, government official at Gyujanggak, referring to technology books of the East and the West
as the guidebook, the fortress started to be constructed in January 1794, and was completed in September 1796 under the general supervision of
Chae Jae Gong, former prime minister and then yeongjungchubusa, and the direction of Jo Sim Tae.
In the process of constructing it, new machines like geojunggi and nokro was specifically designed to move and pile up big stones. When the fortress
was built, many subsidiary facilities such as Hwaseong Haenggung, Jungposa, Neposa, and Sajikdan, etc. were also built. But, most of them have
been destroyed in later wars and riots, except for Naknamheon, part of Hwaseong Haenggung. Passing though the Japanese Occupation Era (1910~1945),
and the Korean War (1950~1953), parts of the fortress were destroyed or lost. But, during the period of 1975~1979, most of the destroyed or lost
parts were repaired and recovered, referring to Hwaseong Seongyeok Euigwae.
The circumference of the fortress is 5,744m, and its area is 130ha. It is a pyeongsanseong, or flat and mountainous fortress, with its eastern part flat,
and its western part straddling Mt. Paldal. There were originally 48 facilities in the fortress: 4 munru, gate tower; 2 sumun, watergate; 3 gongsimdon,
gun-shooting tower; 2 jangdae; 2 nodae, arrow-shooting towers; 5 poru, tower on the wall; 4 gakru; 5 ammun, open gate on the wall; 1 bongdon, or
beacon tower, 4 jeokdae, watchtower; 9 chiseong, protective facilities on the wall; and 2 eungu. Among them, 7 facilities have disappeared by floods
or wars, and 41 remain intact.
The fortress walls of Suwon Hwaseong remain intact almost as the original form as it was constructed 200 years ago. The Suwoncheon River, which
flowed through Buksumun (or Hwaheungmun) watergate, still flows through the watergate, and the road network linking Paldalmun, Janganmun,
Hwaseong Haenggung, and Changrongmun are still used as an important part of the road network of current Suwon city. The construction of the
fortress was motivated by political and economic purposes as well as the filial piety of the king to his father, rather than by military one.
Thus, the fortress can be said to symbolize "hyo," filial piety, part of East Asian philosophy, and so it has spiritual and philosophical value, in addition
to cultural one.
The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is of a pyeongsanseong, or flat and mountainous fortress, which cannot be found in other neighboring countries like
China and Japan. It was constructed for dual functions ― military defense and commercial functions. With its scientific, rational, and practical structures,
it can be called the finest among the fortresses in Asia. The walls were piled up applying the method of 'owechuknetak' in which while outer walls were
piled up, the inner sides were made by raising the grounds using the natural topographical features. Influenced by the silhak which literally meant
practical studies, and was the scholastic and social movement in those days to try to find practical challenges in real life of people avoiding
unrealistic philosophical controversies in neo-Confucianism, various kinds of advanced technology ― mixed use of bricks and stones; device of hyeonan,
or flutes on the wall to pour hot water to enemy soldiers climbing the wall, and nujo, or gutter on the wall; creation of geojunggi, or crane; and wall-piling
up with wood and bricks ― were actively applied in constructing the fortress. It can be regarded as a rare superb example of fortress construction
technology of Asian fortresses.
Especially, the fortress, the result of the fortress construction technologies of the East and the West based on sufficient researches and meticulous plans,
is very important in the respect of architectural history. Hwaseong Seongyeok Euigwae published in 1801 after the fortress had been completed provides
detailed descriptions about personal informations of those workers who participated in the project, sources and uses of various materials, calculation of
budgets and wages, various machines used, the methods of processing materials, and construction diary, as well as the blueprint of construction, and
related institutions and rules. So, the book is evaluated as having left an important footprint in architectural history, specifically on fortress building, and
having a big historical value as records themselves.
Hwaseong Seongyeok Euigwae
The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was designated as the Historical Remains No. 3, and has been managed as such. As subsidiary cultural assets, it has
Paldalmon gate (Treasure No. 402), Hwaseomun gate (Treasure No. 403), Janganmun gate, and Gongsimdon, etc. The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
was chosen to be registered as an UNESCO World Heritage in December 1997.
Janganmun (The North Gate)
Built between February 28 and September 5 of 1794 (the 18th year of King Jeongjo’s reign), Janganmun (North Gate) is one of the four main gates of
Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon. The word “Jangan” has the dual meaning of “capital city” and “welfare of the people.” This magnificent structure
features a hipped-style roof and a semicircular, reinforced defense position attached to its exterior.
Paldalmun (The south Gate)
Paldalmun, which is designated as Treasure No. 402, is the south gate of the Hwaseong Fortress. The name means “open roads in every direction.”
The stone rainbow-style gate was wide enough for a king's visits accompanied by horses and sedan chairs, and above the gate a second-story
structure was built. A low fence was erected around the upper story of the castle gate, a semi-circular castle called Ongseong was built outside the
gate, and jeokdae, a gate guard platform, was constructed to repel enemies.
Hwaseomun (The West Gate)
Hwaseomun is the west gate of the Hwaseong Fortress and is a connecting path to the Namyangman and the west coast. It is designated as Treasure
No.403. Hwaseomun is similar to Changnyongmun in terms of its arch and stone steps.
Seobukgongsimdon (Northwestern Watchtower)
Gongsimdon is an elevated watchtower mounted on a section of a fortress wall to observe and fire upon an approaching enemy. Constructed on March
10, 1796, in the 20th year of King Jeongjo’s reign, the tower has a three-tiered structure whose lower side (the bastion) was built with stones and whose
upper side with bricks. Its interior is fitted with stairs and a combat facility. It is said that on his visit to the fortress in January 1797, the 21st year of his
reign, King Jeongjo expressed satisfaction over its being “the first defense structure of its kind in the country.” The structure was designated as a treasure
in recognition of its historical, academic and architectural value as a building displaying both a creative architectural style and an effective use of materials.
Dongbuk Gangnu is a tower above a pond called Yongyeon located in the northeast of the Hwaseong Fortress. Its nickname is Banghwasuryujeong.
This is one of the most beautiful bowers of the Joseon Dynasty. The structure originally served as the second provisional battle command in case enemies
took the main command post in Hwaseong Fortress in Mt. Paldalsan. However, due to the outstanding beauty of Yongyeon, it became a place for feasts
ather than for battles.
Haenggung is a palace located outside of Seoul where king used to stay when he traveled, at war times, or when he visited tombs. Haenggung can be classified into three types depending on the uses. There were some haenggungs built and used by kings during war times to avoid attacks of enemy troops and to continue to run the country. The Ganghwa Haenggung, the Uiju Haenggung, and the Gwangjubu Haenggung in the Namhan Sanseong Fortress, etc. belong to that category. The Onyang Haenggung was built for the king's rest at the hot spring there, and had been favored by many subsequent kings since King Sejong first used it. And the Hwaseong Haenggung was the temporary palace where King Jeongjo stayed while he visited his father's tomb near it.
King Jeongjo, after moving the tomb of his father Sadoseja to Hyeonryungwon, built the new Suwon city, and constructed the city fortress. From 1790 to 1795 (the 14th ~ 19th years of King Jeongjo), he had several haenggungs built in major stops on his way to the tomb. They were the Gwacheon Haenggung, the Anyang Haenggung, the Sageuncham Haenggung, the Siheung Haenggung, the Ansan Haenggung, and the Hwaseong Haenggung. Among them, the last one was outstandingly the best in its scale and functions. When the king did not stay at the Hwaseong Haenggung, it was used as the administrative office of yusu, or governor, of Hwaseongbu.
King Jeongjo visited his father's tomb Hyeonryungwon 12 times for 11 years from February 1790 to January 1800 (the 24th year of his rule) After moving it in October 1789. Whenever he visited the tomb, he stayed at the Hwaseong Haenggung, holding various events. After King Jeongjo died, the subsequent king Sunjo constructed the Hwaryeongjeon beside the haenggung and put the portrait of King Jeongjo in 1801 (the 1st year of King Sunjo). Subsequent kings following King Jeongjo ― King Sunjo, King Heonjong, and King Gojong ― would stay at the Hwaryeongjeon. The Hwaseong Haenggung, together with its protective fortress, is not simply a superb architecture. It has significant political and military meanings as a symbol of the royal power-strengthening policy the innovative king Jeongjo pursued.
Hwaseong Fortress Tourist Trolley
Ride fee Adult 3,000 won, soldier and youth 2,000 won, children 1,000 won
Yeonmudae - Hwahongmun - Hwaseomun - Mt. Paldal - Hwaseong Temporary Palace - Paldalmun market - Hwaseong Fortress Museum - Yeomudae