Suwon Hwaseong Fortress – Exploring on Foot
Suwon is one of my favorite cities in South Korea. Especially the historic center around Suwon Hwaseong Fortress captivates me. If you’re also a history buff and are interested in Korean heritage, a visit to Suwon is a must. It’s really the closest to traveling back in time as it gets when exploring the fortress on foot.
How to get to Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
- Address: 320-2 Yeonghwa-dong, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Suwon is located about 32 kilometers south of
By bus from
By bus from a different city: If you aren’t coming from
By car: There are several parking lots right in front of Changnyongmun Gate.
When to Visit Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
A visit to Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is exciting at any time of the year but spring and autumn are probably the best times to visit. This is when seasonal flowers bloom in the brightest colors.[/vc_column_text]
History of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Suwon was one of the four main regional government centers of the Joseon Dynasty. Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is 5.7 kilometers long and was built between 1794 and 1796 and surrounds the center of Suwon city. King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty built it to protect the city from outside danger and in honor of his father, Prince Sado, who was executed at the age of 27 by order of his own father. He was put into a rice chest and left to die of starvation.
It is said that Sado was heard from inside the chest until the seventh day. The following day, he was pronounced dead. It is said that Sado was a horrible man. He killed servants or court ladies out of anger or raped court ladies and servants almost on a daily basis at the end of his life. Some historical records say he was in a lucid state and didn’t even realize what crimes he had committed. As a formal execution would also strip Sado’s wife and heirs of their titles, his father the king had to find a way to induce a natural death – hence letting him starve to death.
When Sado’s son ascended to the throne, he decided to restore his father’s reputation and build the fortress in his honor as a display of filial piety.
In 1997, the fortress was designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Walking Tour of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
The historic center of Suwon is perfect to explore on foot. The massive walls of the fortress are 5.74 km long in total and enclose an area of 130 hectars.
Suwoncheon is the main river in Suwon and flows through the center of the fortress. Most of the historic defensive features, especially the gates, are still intact and make it easy to follow the trail on foot.
Changnyongmun Gate 창룡문
This is the eastern gate of the fortress wall and a great place to start your walk along Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Parking is available right next to the gate on both sides.
This is also where the tourist information center is located. Visitors can also sit down at a cafe here, purchase souvenirs, or take part in archery experiences.
You’ll also notice a large hot air balloon near this gate. For 18,000 KRW, the balloon takes you up to 150 meters off the ground. From up above, you’ll have splendid views of the fortress and surrounding areas.
Address: 697, Gyeongsu-daero, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do; 경기도 수원시 팔달구 경수대로 697 (지동)
Dongjangdae Command Post 동장대
You’ll immediately notice the unique location of this command post on the slope of a hill in the middle of low rising land. This was carefully chosen to allow maximum visibility of the surrounding area by troops defending the city.
This building dates back to 1795 and was used as the Eastern Command Post. Besides being used as a defense station, this tower was also a training site for martial arts.
Address: 20 Changnyong-daero 103beon-gil, Maehyang-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Dongammun Gate 동암문
Dongammun is one of five “secret gates” along the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress walls. Secret gates were used as passageways for people, cattle, and military supplies.
The wall area around this gate is one of my favorite viewpoints of the fortress. That’s also why the gate itself is easily overlooked. When you’re there, take notice of the brick structure above the gate with a large round-shaped parapet.
Address: 157 Maehyang-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Banghwasuryujeong Pavilion 방화수류정
This northeast pavilion sits directly above Yongyeon, a pond surrounded by a small garden. While the pavilion was actually supposed to be a tactical building for defense purposes, it quickly became a popular place for people to “hang out” and relax.
The name of this pavilion was inspired by a Song-dynasty poem, which reads “Around the noontime, with white clouds in the sky and light breezes in the air, walking along a willow-lined brook in search of flowers.”
It’s definitely one of my favorite locations along the fortress – both for taking a rest and taking photos.
Address: 44-6 Suwoncheon-ro 392beon-gil, Maehyang-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Yongyeon Pond 용연
This beautiful pond and the surrounding garden look like it was taken straight out of a traditional Joseon painting. In the spring and summer months, this park is a popular picnic spot with many local cafes offering picnic sets for rent.
If you don’t have a lot of time in Suwon, this can be your final stop before heading back to your car/bus, etc. This short walk covers the most beautiful views on Suwon – at least in my opinion.
Address: 190 Yeonmu-dong, Jangan-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Hwahongmun Gate 화홍문
If you have more time to explore Suwon on foot, your next stop will be Hwahongmun. This beautiful gate has seven arches, under which the Suwoncheon river flows.
This building functioned both as a bridge and a defense post for cannons.
Address: 33-4 Buksu-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Janganmun Gate 장안문
Continue your walk until you reach Janganmun Gate, the main gate of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress in the north. Jangan translates to capital, expressing the role of Hwaseong Fortress as the secondary capital of the kingdom.
In fact, the king passed through this gate when arriving in Hwaseong (today: Suwon) from the capital city Hanyang (today:
Address: 910, Jeongjo-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Hwaseomun Gate 화서문
The final stop of this self-walking tour of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is Hwaseomun Gate, the western gate of the Fortress. The defensive gate forms a crescent shape,
There is a cute café right across from this gate called One More Café with excellent rooftop views of the gate.
Address: 334, Jangan-dong, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Hwaseong Haenggung Palace 화성행궁
Built as a temporary palace within the Hwaseong Fortress, Hwaseong Haenggung Palace served as a retreat for King Jeongjo during his visits to his father’s tomb. The palace showcases exquisite architectural design and beautifully landscaped gardens, providing a glimpse into the royal lifestyle of the Joseon Dynasty. Visitors can explore the various palace buildings, including the royal residence and audience halls, and immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of South Korea.
The palace is also infamous for the dramatic “Rice Chest”. Sado, the son of King Yeongjo, met a tragic fate when he was condemned to death by being sealed alive inside a rice chest. King Yeongjo resorted to this extreme punishment after Sado failed to comply with an order to take his own life.
Today, visitors can witness replicas of the rice chest and even have the unique opportunity to step inside one, experiencing a taste of the historic intrigue that unfolded at Hwaseong Haenggung Palace.
Address: 825 Jeongjo-ro, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Where to Stay in Suwon
There are many great places to stay in Suwon overnight, allowing you to not only explore Suwon Hwaseong Fortress but also other attractions, like Wolhwawon Traditional Chinese Garden.
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