Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress

The finest fortresses the Joseon dynasty

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
The Hwaseong is a piled-stone and brick fortress of the Joseon Dynasty that surrounds the centre of Suwon City, of Gyeonggi-do Province. It was built in the late 18th century by King Jeongjo for defensive purposes, to form a new political basis and to house the remains of his father, Crown Prince Jangheon. The massive walls of the fortress, which are 5.74km in length, enclose an area of 130 ha and follow the topography of the land. With its scientific, rational, and practical structures, it can be called the finest among the fortresses in Asia. 

It differed from the fortresses in China and Japan in that it combined military, political and commercial functions. Hwaseong Fortress represents the pinnacle of 18th century military architecture, incorporating the best scientific ideas from Europe and East Asia brought together through careful study by scholars from the School of Practical Learning. It demonstrates important developments in construction and the use of materials that reflects the interchange of scientific and technical achievements between the East and West. The fortress had a great influence on the development of Korean architecture, urban planning, and landscaping and related arts.

The walls incorporate a number of defensive features, most of which are intact. These include floodgates, observation towers, command posts, multiple arrow launcher towers, firearm bastions, angle towers, secret gates, beacon towers, bastions and bunkers. There are four main gates at the cardinal points. The west(Hwaseomun) and east(Changnyongmun) gates are single-storey structures, also protected by ravelins. The Paldalmun Gate in the south and the Janganmun Gate in the north are impressive two-storey wooden structures on stone bases. They are linked to the main road running through the complex. From now on, let me start with the Paldalmun in the south and the flower of castle architecture, Suwon Hwaseong.

Paldalmun, The south Gate
Paldalmun, which is designated as Treasure No. 402, is the south gate of the Hwaseong Fortress. The name means “open roads in every direction.” The stone rainbow-style gate was wide enough for a king's visits accompanied by horses and sedan chairs, and above the gate a second-story structure was built. A low fence was erected around the upper story of the castle gate, a semi-circular castle called Ongseong was built outside the gate, and jeokdae, a gate guard platform, was constructed to repel enemies.
Namsumun
Namsumun is a floodgate on the Suwoncheon Stream, located where the Suwoncheon reunites with the fortress wall after flowing south from Hwahongmun Gate. It consists of 9arched gates that can control the water-level in the lower reaches of Suwoncheon with a military barracks at the top of the gate where soldiers can stay or attack enemies outside of the fortress.
Dongnamgangnu
Gangnu is a pavilion-like structure located on a relatively high place of the fortress walls where troops were able to rest and keep watch on the surrounding areas. During extraordinary situations, it also served as a command post. Among the four such pavilions, Dongnamgangnu has the widest angle view in and out of the fortress. Located opposite the Namgongsimdon (Southern Watchtower), it was built to defend the sections near the Namsumun (Southern Floodgate).
Chiseong, Protruding Bastions
Chiseong is a simple bastion that protrudes outside to attack against the enemy approaching the fortress. There are eight such bastions in Hwaseong Fortress.
Dong-i Poru
Dong-i Poru, the second eastern sentry post, like other sentry posts, is a wooden structure sitting on a turret. Construction of this post was completed on July 3, 1796 and it was intended to defend the beacon tower. For this purpose, it extends further out from the wall than the north-western sentry post. It also lacks wooden front doors.
Bongdon, the Beacon Tower
Bongdon can be seen from the front of the Hwaseong Haenggung (temporary palace). It was made because the king can watch the signal right at the palace. By placing a guard at this Bongdon, emergencies were informed through lights and smokes. The first one in the south among the five lights was used in peacetime.
Dong-i Chi
Dong-i Chi, the second eastern turret, like the other nine turrets around Hwaseong, allowed soldiers to look out in many directions along the exterior of the wall. Unlike the other two eastern turrets, the outer corners of this structure are rounded, the others forming sharp right angles.
Dong Poru
Dong-GunTower, the eastern GunTower, lies between the two eastern turrets. Construction of the post was completed on July 16, 1796. As with other GunTowers in Hwaseong, the interior is of multiple levels to allow various angles for firearms and other weapons.
Dong-il Chi
Dong-il Chi, the first eastern turret, is the first turret south of the first eastern sentry post, lying 148 metres (486 ft) along the wall towards the beacon tower.
Dongil Poru
Dongil-SentryPost, the first eastern sentry post, was completed on July 10, 1796. Like the second eastern sentry post, it extends further from the wall than most posts.
Changnyongmun, The East Gate
Changnyongmun is normally called Dongmun and is the east gate of the Hwaseong Fortress. Unlike Janganmun, the gate is not connected to Ongseong and one of the gates is open. It was destroyed during the Korean War but was completely restored in 1975 in accordance with the Hwaseong Seongyeok Uigwe (Archives of the Construction of Hwaseong Fortress).
Dongbuk Nodae
Dongbuk Nodae was a facility to use large bows and is located in the northeast of the Hwaseong Fortress. A large bow called Soenoe was developed and used to shoot multiple arrows using gunpowder.
Dongbuk Gongsimdon
Dongbuk Gongsimdon is located in the northeast of the Hwaseong Fortress. It is a 6.8m-tall, three-story oval observation tower, another architectural wonder of Hwaseong Fortress. A stairway spirals up the interior wall of the tower from the bottom to the top platform. It is also called Soragak (turban-shell shape) because stones were piled up in round shape, enabling people to go up. Soldiers were able to observe enemy movements and to fire weapons.
Dongjangdae
Jangdae is a command post, and Hwaseong Fortress has two jangdaes: Seojangdae and Dongjangdae. Built between July 15 and August 25, 1795 (the 19th year of King Jeongjo’s reign), Dongjangdae was also called Yeonmudae, “a training ground for the martial arts.” It is a good spot, with its low-lying, open lands, to watch over the interior of the fortress from the east.
Dongammun
Dongbuk Poru is located in the northeast of the Hwaseong Fortress on slightly elevated terrain. It was used to cover Banghwasuryujeong to Dongjangdae in wartime and as a resting area in peacetime.
Dongbuk Poru
Dongbuk Poru is located in the northeast of the Hwaseong Fortress on slightly elevated terrain. It was used to cover Banghwasuryujeong to Dongjangdae in wartime and as a resting area in peacetime.
Bukammun
Secret gates are a secret passage for wartime and located in the curb, deeply indented places or hidden place with woods. Bukammun is located in the deeply indented place on the north of Banhwasuryujeong. Hidden from outer part of the castle, it has the most appropriate location. It also has a beautiful pattern.
Dongbuk Gangnu
Dongbuk Gangnu is a tower above a pond called Yongyeon located in the northeast of the Hwaseong Fortress. Its nickname is Banghwasuryujeong. This is one of the most beautiful bowers of the Joseon Dynasty. The structure originally served as the second provisional battle command in case enemies took the main command post in Hwaseong Fortress in Mt. Paldalsan. However, due to the outstanding beauty of Yongyeon, it became a place for feasts rather than for battles.
Hwahongmun
The north gate, which is located below the Banghwasuryujeong, is called Hwahongmun, which means “beautiful rainbow-colored gate.” It was constructed over a river by broadening Suwoncheon, which flows through the Hwaseong Fortress, and set up a bridge with seven holes. Above this gate, a multi-story building was erected. Hwahongmun played a role of a bridge, connecting villages from the either side of the river. A bower on the river was used as a resting area for the people and facilities were equipped with canons to protect the Fortress.
Bukdong Poru
This firearms bastion protrudes 3m from the fortress wall. Bukdong Poru is used to shoot canons located in the northeast of the Fortress. The shape of 凸 was attached to the castle wall similar to Chiseong and its height was about that of poru. Its structure is similar to gongdon in that the inside of the three-storied architecture is empty.
Bukdong Chi
Bukdong Chi, the north-eastern turret, sits immediately to the east of the north-eastern gate guard platform.
Bukdong Jeokdae
Jeokdae is a facility established to the right and left of the fortress gate to defend against enemies approaching the gate and ongseong. It is located to the east of Janganmun.
Janganmun, The North Gate
Built between February 28 and September 5 of 1794 (the 18th year of King Jeongjo’s reign), Janganmun (North Gate) is one of the four main gates of Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon. The word “Jangan” has the dual meaning of “capital city” and “welfare of the people.” This magnificent structure features a hipped-style roof and a semicircular, reinforced defense position attached to its exterior.
Bukseo Jeokdae
Jeokdae is a facility established to the right and left of the fortress gate to defend against enemies approaching the gate and ongseong. It is located to the west of Janganmun.
Bukseo Poru
Bukseo Poru, which is located in the northwest of the Fortress, projects from the castle similar to Chiseong by using black bricks. Its inside is partitioned into three stories using boards and concealed firearms were used to attack enemies from above and below.
This wooden structure was built on a bastion of the fortress wall and finished on February 20, 1795, in the 19th year of King Jeongjo’s reign. Located between Hwaseomun (West Gate) and Janganmun (North Gate), it is one of five sentry posts at Hwaseong Fortress used as vantage points from which to spot and fire upon an approaching enemy.
Seobukgongsimdon, Northwestern Watchtower
Treasure No. 1710 (designated on March 3, 2011)Gongsimdon is an elevated watchtower mounted on a section of a fortress wall to observe and fire upon an approaching enemy. Constructed on March 10, 1796, in the 20th year of King Jeongjo’s reign, the tower has a three-tiered structure whose lower side (the bastion) was built with stones and whose upper side with bricks. Its interior is fitted with stairs and a combat facility. It is said that on his visit to the fortress in January 1797, the 21st year of his reign, King Jeongjo expressed satisfaction over its being “the first defense structure of its kind in the country.” The structure was designated as a treasure in recognition of its historical, academic and architectural value as a building displaying both a creative architectural style and an effective use of materials.              
Hwaseomun, the West Gate
Hwaseomun is the west gate of the Hwaseong Fortress and is a connecting path to the Namyangman and the west coast. It is designated as Treasure No. 403. Hwaseomun is similar to Changnyongmun in terms of its arch and stone steps.
Seobukgangnu, Northwestern Pavilion
Gangnu is a pavilion-like structure positioned on a relatively high part of the fortress, where troops were able to rest and keep watch on the surrounding areas. During emergency situations, it also served as a command post. One of four such pavilions at the fortress, Seobukgangnu was built as a command post at a point opposite Mt. Sukji for troops deployed near Hwaseomun.
Seo-il Chi
Seo-il Chi, meaning West Turret 1, is a small bulge in the wall to allow soldiers to fire upon anyone attempting to scale Hwaseong from the outside.
Seo-i Chi
Seo-i Chi, the second turret on the west of Hwaseong, stands just below Seonodae on the slopes of Paldalsan. Its purpose, as with any turret, was to provide a location to attack people trying to scale the walls.
Seonodae
Nodae is a raised platform set up on a fortress to enable the fortress’s defenders to fire multiple volleys of arrows at enemy troops. Hwaseong Fortress has two such crossbow platforms: this one and the one in the Northeastern section. Seonodae, located on the summit of Mt. Paldal, is an octagonal brick structure that commands a view of all directions.
Seojangdae
Jangdae is a command post. Seojangdae, built between August 11 and September 29, 1794, in the 18th year of the reign of King Jeongjo, is located in the western section of the fortress on the summit of Mt. Paldal. The inscription “Hwaseongjangdae” on the frame hung on the wall was handwritten by King Jeongjo. On February 12, 1795, King Jeongjo paid homage at Hyeollyungwon, his father’s tomb, and then visited Seojangdae, where the Joseon troops were engaged in defense training under his command until late into the night.
Seoammun
Hwaseong Fortress has five secret gates for the passage of people, cattle, and military supplies. Seoammun, which is a well-hidden passage made with the use of geographical features, was built in June 18, 1796 (the 20th year of King Jeongjo’s reign).
Seoporu
Seoporu, one of the five cannon forts at Hwaseong Fortress, is located between Seobukgangnu and Seojangdae. It was built on May 30, 1796, in the 20th year of King Jeongjo’s reign, as a three-tiered structure on the bastion to enable the fortress’s defenders to fire cannon directly at enemy forces.
Seosam Chi
Seosam Chi, the third western turret, has the same function as the other nine turrets around Hwaseong. It sits just north of the south-western spur.
Seonamammun and Seonamposa
Hwaseong has five secret gates for the passage of people, cattle, and military supplies. Seoammun (Western Secret Gate) is a well-hidden passage and also an entrance to Yongdo, a passageway along the outer perimeter of the fortress. Only this gate has a  sentry box among the fortress’s five secret gates. Sentries there signaled to other troops for an approaching enemy by waving a flag or firing a gun. Its arched structure (hong-ye) was built in August 6, 1796 (the 20th year of King Jeongjo’s reign). A posa is a sentry post from which, in cases of emergencies such as enemy attack, warning signals through waving a flag or firing a cannon were sent.      
Seonamgangnu
Gangnu is a pavilion-like structure positioned on a relatively high part of the fortress walls, where troops were able to rest and keep watch on the surrounding areas. During extraordinary situations, it also served as a command post. One of four such pavilions, Seonamgangnu is located at the southern end of Yongdo, a passageway along the outer perimeter of the fortress used for patrolling, and situated on the southern slope of Mt. Paldal. It was built between April 16 and July 20, 1796 (the 20th year of King Jeongjo’s reign). Concerning the inscription “Hwayangnu” in the frame hung on the wall, “hwa” means Hwaseong and “yang” the south of the mountain.
Namporu
Poru, a sentry tower, is a partly projecting facility of 8.8m that enables defenders to attack enemies from above, below and either side using firearms and cannons hidden inside. It is located in the southern slope of Mt. Paldalsan.
Nam Chi
Nam Chi, the southern turret, juts out from the wall on the slopes of Paldalsan uphill from Paldalmun yet below Nam Poru.
Yongdoseochi
Two turrets are situated midway along the south-west spur from the South-West Secret Gate to the South-West Pavilion. On the right when coming from the Secret Gate, the South-West Turret 1 (Seonamilchi 서남일치) extends to the West and overlooks the city of Suwon towards Seoho. It is also called South-West Spur's Western Turret.
 Yongdodongchi
Two turrets are situated midway along the south-west spur from the South-West Secret Gate to the South-West Pavilion. On the right when coming from the South-West Pavilion, the South-West Turret 2 (Seonamichi 서남이치) extends to the East and overlooks the wall towards Paldalmun (though this cannot be seen nowadays as the hill has become thickly forested). It is also called South-West Spur's Eastern Turret.
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