The immense walls of Hwaseong Fortress encircle the historic center of Suwon. Built by King Jeongjo in the 1790s in tribute to his father Prince Sado, Hwaseong Fortress is both a castle and reliquary. Explore the centuries-old settlement of Suwon enclosed by the walls, as well as the king’s palace Haenggung and the city’s main street. For a breathtaking city overview, walk beside the walls and follow the fortification as it loops around historic Suwon.
Begin your exploration of the Hwaseong Fortress via the Paldalmun Gate. This large south-facing entryway is one of four main gates and a remarkable introduction to the fortress. Gaze up at the gate’s tall wooden pavilion and its intricate stonemasonry and carvings. Find the visitor center on the fort’s western side and pick up a map to begin your walking tour of the 18th-century walls.
The fortress walls extend for nearly 4 miles (6 kilometers) around the old city complex. Admire the sheer size of the walls, which incorporate innovative military designs from the time. Bastions and artillery towers pepper the fort walls. Four gates are placed at north, south, east and west. Stone-and-brick parapets follow the contours of the landscape, rising over hilltops and across flat plains. As you wander, you’ll find intriguing historic relics. Check out the two remaining watchtowers and the floodgates. Peer up at the old beacon tower with five chimneys that were used to give smoke signals.
Follow the walking route up the hillsides to get a magnificent vantage point over old and new Suwon. Look for the arterial road of Suwoncheon passing through the centuries-old city, as well as the high-rise buildings beyond the fort walls. Visit the collection of museums of Hwaseong Fortress to learn more about the Joseon Dynasty, military architecture and the city’s history.
Hwaseong Fortress is located in the heart of historic Suwon. Enter the castle via its main gates and purchase tickets at the visitor center for the historic sites and museums. Take the tourist trolley which includes an audio guide describing the sites. If you are participating in a walking tour, wear sturdy shoes.