Hwaseong Fortress

Suwon HwaseongVisited: Sept. 2010, Jun 2012, Apr. 2013

Site Type: Cultural

Inscribed: 1997

Background and Opinion:

Located less than thirty minutes south of the Korean capital is the best preserved city wall in the whole country. Hwaseong is a relatively new fortress (end of the 18th century) built by the Joseon dynasty to defend the city of Suwon and honor the late Prince Sado.

Map of Hwaseong

Contrary to most things in Korea, this structure is completely original suffering only minor damage during the Korean War. It has a wonderful river that flows through it and a very impressive flood gate. Walking along the wall is the best way to experience it as you can see some steep drops along the 5.5 km circumference.

Hwaseong Fortress Flood Gate

One of the best things to do while visiting the wall is to try your hand at Korean archery. Towards the north east entrance is an archery range where tourists can try their hands at shooting targets 10 meters away. While this is quite entertaining, I always liked watching the professionals who frequent the range and shoot at the much farther, 50 meter targets.

Korean Archers in Hwaseong

Another cool thing not many notice is the tile art in the center of the fortress. Walking along the main road across the wall you will see a mosaic like design on the floor which depicts an epic convoy from ancient times. The detail is quite impressive and if you have time, you can also check out the palace directly in front of the tiles.

Evaluation

1) Completeness and Originality (13 out of 15): Mint Condition

Palace within Hwaseong

2) Extensiveness of the Site (5 out of 15): You can see pretty much all of it in a few hours.

The secret entrance to Hwaseong
The secret entrance to Hwaseong

3) Cultural Significance (3 out of 25): It is a great example of Korean fortresses, but has mostly local significance.

Towers of Hwaseong

4) Personal Impact (5 out of 15): Feels like a mini-great wall.

Steep drop in Hwaseong
Steep drop in Hwaseong

5) Logistics (6 out of 10): Getting to Suwon is pretty simple but you have to take a bus or taxi to the wall. This is not too straight forward if you don’t speak Korean.

Unless of course, you decide to find the secret hike that leads to the secret entrance. Totally worth it for me, but not for everyone.
Unless of course, you decide to find the secret hike that leads to the secret entrance. Totally worth it for me, but not for everyone.

6) Uniqueness (1 out of 20): While I really love it, there are dozens of walls around the world, and many are just as impressive. However, it is definitely worth a look.

For the very best views when you can have the whole wall to yourself, consider visiting at night.
For the very best views when you can have the whole wall to yourself, consider visiting at night.

Combined Score: 33/100

Is this a good score? Find out how it compares with other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in our rankings.

Curious how the scores are derived? Check out the scoring criteria.

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Julio Moreno

Julio is a California native who has lived abroad since 2009 as an expat in South Korea and New Zealand. He is especially passionate about experiencing other cultures and visiting as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible.
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