Sunday, September 20, 2009

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

On Saturday we decided to take a hike around the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. This is a massive wall that was built around Suwon City. It is sometimes referred to as The Great Korean Wall. It was built in the 1700's for several reasons. One reason was to protect King Jeongjo's father's tomb. Another reason was to protect the city during war. And a third motive was to potentially move the country's capital to Suwon, instead of Seoul.

The modern Suwon is now much larger than the "old Suwon" and is built inside and outside the walls. We live about a mile outside the walls near Hwaseomun, or the West Gate. The whole wall is about 4 miles long. The whole West and South West end is on Mount Paldalsan. Mount Paldalsan is 2,000 feet high, or .4 miles high. The climb up this part of the mountain was very tough. It was an extremely steep incline... you can see in the pictures how high up we had to climb.

The wall was damaged during the Korean War, but has been restored. There is only about 10% of the wall which has not been restored, which now has a very busy road going through it, this might be why they chose to not restore this section.

We have seen the wall a few times at night in taxis - and it is gorgeous. Every inch of the wall is lit and is like a shining beacon. We only walked half of the wall... it was extremely hot out and we got tired after walking for about 3 hours. We decided that within the next few weeks we will walk the other half.

Enjoy the pictures and random videos throughout! If you would like to view the videos larger on Youtube you can visit my youtube website. Click on that link and it should take you to my main page. There are also videos from my other trips in England, Jamaica and Australia.

Andrew and I also bought a Wisconsin phone number. If you call it - our computer will ring. If we are not by the computer it will go to our voicemail, so leave us a message and your phone number and we will call you back as soon as we can! If you would like the phone number you can e-mail me or my parents and we will give it to you!

Notice the gold statue on the left. This thing was massive! It is King Jeongjo's Bronze Statue.

Hwaseong Haenggung. This is the palace in Suwon. We didn't go in because we wanted to walk the wall. We are finding all Palaces look very similar.

Hwaseong Haenggung

Paldalmun - South Gate. There is a roundabout that goes around it! The road area is the remaining 10% that was not restored after the Korean war... everything else is connected.

Detail of the painting on Paldalmun.

It doesn't look like much from this picture, but it was a little intimidating in person. It is a .4 mile high very steep incline up to the top of Mount Paldalsan. It was definitely a work out - and I instantly wished I had brought my inhaler with me!

Approaching the wall.

And so it begins... Notice the round thing on the ground... that is a light... the whole wall is completely lit up at night... it is so beautiful! Quite a sight to see!

We had to keep stopping on our way up... it was so steep! Andrew is standing by an archery hole.

This is about half way up the climb...

Still half way...

zoomed in - you can see the Paldalmun from where we started. Can you spot it in the smaller pictures? Its like Where's Waldo.

About half way up the climb. Click play to see a 360* view.

We finally reached the top! This is Seonamammun... the Southern secret gate.

Just a look along the wall.

At the Seojangdae Tourist Information passover. Laney and I sitting on the edge.

At the Seojangdae Tourist Information passover. Laney and I sitting on the edge.

I'm sitting on the edge... haha.

Andrew and I are holding up Seo-Poru.

Bell of Hyowon.

We bought three strikes on the bell. These are the meanings of the three tolls.

Watch us as we take our three strikes! It was SO much louder in person! We could hear people striking the bell nearly a mile away.

After we had our three strikes.

A Korean family taking three strikes.

Andrew and the bell.

This is what you use to swing and hit the bell.

The swinging thing to strike the bell.

These men were walking around in traditional dress.


I thought this flower was pretty... with a blurred cityscape in the background.

We found the secret passageway which lead to a steep decline down the mountain.


People taking a rest in the pavilion. Notice they took their shoes off before entering, as is custom nearly everywhere.

This is a video... click the play button!

All of those highrises are apartment buildings.

Andrew takes a peak down from Seonodae... an archery tower/observation point.

Hwaseomun... the West gate. We live about a mile from this point of the wall.


Just another view of the cityscape.

In Korea people believe that if you walk backwards it is good for your health and you will live a longer life. We read about this before going and my friend said that if we saw it we should take a video... well we saw it! It's no joke!

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