My first trip to Suwon was a little over two years ago. I didn’t visit any landmarks, I didn’t eat anything out of the ordinary, I went to visit my dad. He’d just moved to the area and I wanted to see how he was doing. During one of my next few visits, he mentioned some of the historical structures and things to do. We discussed clearing out some time and making a trip sometime, probably with my girlfriend.
Fast forward to nearly a month ago when we finally had time to make the trip. My girlfriend, my father, my brother, and I made the trip on a warm Saturday when none of us had work. We visited the palace and walked along the wall for a few hours. It was warm, bright and sunny; and I knew someday that I had to come back.
The wall Hwaseong fortress wall is 3.57 miles long and originally enclosed 0.5 square miles of land. Most of the structures are built out of stone and wood although it’s been rebuilt and repaired several times since it was originally constructed in the late 18th century. Visitors can walk the entire length of the wall, but I warn you, it’s over uneven grounds and has more twists and turns than a maze.
The wall includes a lot of structures that still stand today from floodgates (above), to watchtowers, turrets for bowmen and archers as well as beacon towers. Unlike the palaces or hanoks, this place was built for war.
Hundreds of years ago, the walls enclosed the palace, military barracks, and other structures. Now the interior is filled with residential homes, ㅐ, restaurants and cafes. Time has traded royalty, nobles and soldiers for families, office workers, and baristas.
For the most part, what can be seen has been rebuilt, and recently. Wars have been fought, the economy has risen and fallen, and wood-rot has taken its toll. But, the palace and fortress still look amazing; especially, at night. Most nights the walls are empty with the exception of a handful of people walking their dogs, families out for a leisurely stroll, and photographers (namely me).
I wouldn’t recommend making the trip unless you are interested solely in the structures and history. There aren’t many activities for visitors to partake in (there is archery, though) and once you’ve walked the structure, there’s little else to do besides eat some food. But if you find yourself with nothing else or if you find yourself in the area, it is a great place to just sit down and forget about the world. Just for an hour.