Suwon is the capital city of the Gyeonggi-do district and has a population of about one million. However, it is quite close to Seoul, so it is not difficult to reach. Suwon station is part of Seoul’s subway system, but it of course will take you a bit of time to get there. The close proximity makes it ideal for a day trip from Seoul.
I’m sure there is a lot of stuff to see in Suwon since the city is an important cultural and industrial. However, we decided to focus on the main attractions given our limited time.
Hwaseong Temporary Palace
As the title suggests, this palace was only used as a temporary residence for the royal family during a war. There are multiple temporary temples throughout Korea, and this is apparently the biggest one. It was also used for a bunch of ceremonies and whatnot. This palace was frequently used by King Jeongjo to visit his father’s tomb.
When we went there, a bunch of exhibitons were hold such as fights between guards and ropewalking.
We had a very nice lady give us a tour of the facilities. She told us a bunch of stories about the royal family, but to be honest it’s been a few weeks and I don’t want to butcher the stories, so I’d rather not try to piece together my memories of her tales. It was some pretty wild stuff though if I remember correctly.
As far as the temple itself is concerned, it’s nice. Your ‘typical’ Korean temple, at least to my untrained eyes. A cool place to check out if you are in the area, but maybe not necessarily going out of your way to see, especially since there are so many temples nearby in Seoul.
This was not the main attraction anyway. Suwon is probably mostly known for:
Hwaseong Fortress & Wall
Hwaseong is the wall that sorrounds the center of Suwon. The fortress was built at the end of the 18th century. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.
You can hike up the wall and traverse it. It has a length of about 5.5 km and features four gates.
You can get a great view of Suwon from up there. We once again had a guide that told us a bunch of interesting stuff, including showing us a hidden entrance. There’s a lot to see here, including the four aforementioned gates. And if you’re done with that, you can take a stroll through Suwon, so there’s definitely more than enough stuff to check out here.
All in all, I had a great time in Suwon. The fortress wall really is a sight to behold, and the temporary palace was a nice bonus. And of course it’s even better if a CAU student just organizes a trip on her own to take a bunch of exchange students there, provide them with two tours, and so much more. Thanks Cherry!