Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Meeting with King Jeongjo: Part 2 - The Suwon Hwaseong Museum

After picking us up at a meeting point this past Saturday morning, the coach bus dropped us off at the Suwon Hwaseong Museum.

Suwon is a city here in the Gyeonggi-do Province that lies 19 miles south of Seoul.  Hwaseong is the name of the fortress that was built in Suwon in 1794-1796 during King Jeongjo's rule.  The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

--Suwon Hwaseong Museum-- 

Before we even went inside the museum, our two groups (bus 1 and bus 2) were combined for a group photo.  There was an official banner that was held in front of the first row of people, and many camera men were there to take our picture.  I found it amusing the number of camera people, so I took their picture while they took ours:


Once inside the museum, the two groups were split up again.  Our tour guide was a nice, older Korean man with passable English, but he spoke quite slowly and simply.



For example, when we got to the display below, he told us these were swords - weapons....  

Swords.


I just didn't learn as much as I wanted to from the brief museum visit.

Model of the fortress

But that was okay, because right afterwards we went outside and got to walk around the fortress wall!

--Hwaseong Fortress--

The fortress has a circumference of 5,744 meters.  While walking along the fortress, it was neat to see modern-day Suwon on both sides of the wall.


So how could you tell which side was in the fortress and which side was the outside?

The land against the inner walls had been built up so that the distance from the ground to the top of the wall was never much more than the height of a person.  The outer side of the wall, however, was at least 5 meters from the ground in all locations.


The fortress has several secret gates that are hard to see from the outside, but look like normal doors from inside the fortress.  We got to see the North Secret Gate, Bukammun:

North Secret Gate - Hwaseong Fortress
(Looking out from inside the fortress)

Right next to the North Secret Gate was a "tower" that we went in; I believe it was Dongbuk Gananu.  From the inner side of the fortress, it was only five or six steps up.  We had to take off our shoes before going up, but the views of the Yongyeon pond below were well worth it!


That Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day for late November, making the time spent walking along the fortress wall very enjoyable.

Up next on the Meeting with King Jeongjo itinerary: Lunch and travel to Yongju Temple.

IF YOU GO...

What: Suwon Hwaseong Museum
Where: 21 Changryong Boulevard Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Buses: About a million local buses have a stop in front of the museum. They are listed here.
Metro: Suwon Station (Line 1)
Hours: 9:00 - 18:00 (Entry by 17:00 only) The museum is closed on Mondays!
Price: Adults - W2,000
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