Hwaseong Fortress
Hwaseong Fortress
Cultural Republic Of Korea Asia And The Pacific Gyeonggi-do Province

Hwaseong Fortress had a great influence on the development of Korean architecture, urban planning, and landscaping and related arts for many centuries. It is the epitome of this type of structure in the Far East and is a landmark in the history of military architecture. It differs from fortresses in China and Japan in that it combines military, political and commercial functions.

Crown Prince Sado, son of the Joseon ruler Yeongjo, was unjustly condemned and executed by his father. When Sado's son Jeongjo succeeded Yeongjo in 1776, he had his father's remains exhumed and buried in a tomb on Mount Hwasan, the most auspicious geomantic site. He built Yongjusa Temple nearby for the repose of his soul, and moved the seat of government to the foot of Mount Paldalsan in Suwon. By moving his seat of government Jeongjo was able to end factional strife, enhance the authority of the throne, and provide greater security for the court within the walls of the new fortress. This was laid out in accordance with the work by Jeong Yakyong, a leading scholar of the School of Practical Learning. Building was completed between 1794 and 1796, under the supervision of Chae Jegong, a former minister and magistrate. Cranes, pulleys, and other special pieces of equipment were designed and built specially for the project, which is described in detail in Archives on the Construction of Hwaseong Fortress.

Various other structures were built around the Fortress, including the Hwaseong Temporary Palace and Sajikdan, the altar for sacrifices to the guardian deities of the state. These were burned down during the course of later wars and rebellions, and only Nangnamheon Hall, an annex of the Temporary Palace, has survived to the present day. Parts of the Fortress were destroyed or damaged during the Japanese occupation and the Korean War, but the availability of the archives has made it possible for the fortress to be restored to its authentic original form.

The massive walls of the fortress enclose an area that includes the foot of Mount Paldalsan. They follow the topography of the land, rather than taking up a regular or symmetrical form. The walls were originally 48 defensive features along the length of the walls - four gates, floodgates, observation towers, command posts, multiple-arrow launcher towers, firearms bastions, angle towers, secret gates, beacon towers, bastions and bunkers - and most of these survive intact. Each merlon has three gun embrasures.
There are four main gates, on the cardinal points. The Paldalmun Gate in the south and the Janganmun Gate in the north are impressive two-storey wooden structures on stone bases, flanked by guard platforms and shielded by half-moon ravelins built from fired brick. They are linked by the main road running through the complex. The west and east gates are single-storey structures, during the Korean War, also protected by ravelins.

Work on the restoration and reconstruction of the Fortress began in 1964, and has continued since that time. The angle towers, command posts, observation towers, bastions, and other defensive features are all solidly constructed and strategically sited for maximum utility and minimum visibility.

The circuit of walls and most of its elements (gates, towers, bastions, etc.) preserve the authenticity of their origin in terms of site, materials and techniques.