Seoul City Wall: A Living Memory of Seoul’s History

Have you ever heard of the Seoul City Wall? The wall that serves as the living memory of Seoul’s history and the most precious wall in the world. If not yet, let’s find out here, chingudeul!

What is the Seoul City Wall?

Seoul City Wall

The Seoul City Wall is the oldest and largest wall in the world measuring 18,627 meters long, 5 and 8meters high.  The wall follows the four main mountains surrounding the city of Seoul, Baegak (Bugaksan), Naksan (Naktasan), Namsan (Mongmyeoksan) and Inwangsan.

The founder of the Joseon Dynasty, King Taejo, built the royal palace, Jongmyo Shrine, and Sajikdan Altar in Seoul to relocate the capital of the kingdom to this location. Then during his reign, the City Wall was built to defend and protect the capital.

During the 5th year of King Taejo, Hanyang’s population was about 50,000. So with a total of 118,070 people were gathered from across the country to start building the Seoul City Wall in January 1396.

On the 3rd year of King Sejong’s reign in 1421, about 320,000 people were gathered from across the country to repair and replace the wall sections of the wall with stonewalls.  Watergates were also built for the smooth flow of the Cheonggyecheon stream near Dongdaemun.

During the 30th year of King Sukjong, the 19th king of the Joseon Dynasty, repairing the city wall for 5 years started. They put solid and square-shaped stones with the size of 30-45 cm.

At present, about 70% of the original castle walls still remain and a total of 12,771 meters long maintain their original shape.

Seoul City Wall Trail Course

Baegak Mountain Trail

The Baegak Mountain Trails runs from Changuimun (Jahamun Gate) to Hyehwamun gate. With a distance of 4.7 km, the tour course will take about 3 hours. Baegak Mountain was the main and highest mountain Seoul. In 1968, when a unit of North Korean Special Forces invaded in Seoul. The mountain wasn’t accessible for about forty years. In 2007, it re-opened to the public.

Entrance is free and opens 24/7. But during summer visitors can visit from 07:00 am to 7:00 pm last entry at 5:00 pm. Spring and fall season visitors allowed from 07:00 am to  6:00 pm last entry by 4:00 pm. During the winter season, entry is from 09:00 am up to 7:00 pm (Entrance by 3:00 pm).

How to get here?

[Changuimun]
Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 3 → Green bus No. 7212, 1020 or 7022 → Get off the bus off Jahamungogae Ridge → 2 minutes walk

[Sukjeongmun Information Center]
Hansung Univ. Station Exit 6 → Green bus No. 1111 or 2112 → Get off at Myungsu School → 20 minutes walk

[Malbawi Information Center]
1) Anguk Station Exit 2 → Jongno Town Bus No. 02 → Get off at the Sungkyunkwan Univ. Back Gate → 20 minutes walk
2) Gwanghwamun Station Exit 2 → Jongno Town Bus No. 11 → Get off at Samcheong Park → 20 minutes walk

[Bukjeong Village / Waryong Park]
Hangsung Univ. Station Exit 6 → Seongbuk Town Bus No. 03 → Get off at Palgakjeong Pavilion → 5 minutes walk

[Hyehwamun]
Hangsung Univ. Station Exit 5 → 5 minutes walk

Naksan Mountain Trail 

Naksan Park

Naksan Mountain Trails runs from Hyehwamun to Heunginjimun (Dongdaemun Gate). With the distance of 2.1km the walking course will take about an hour. From Seoul’s four inner mountains Naksan is the lowest one. Known as Naktasan which means ‘Camel Mountain’ or Tarak, due to the up and down humps resembles a camel’s back. Among all the Seoul City trail this course is the easiest and will take about 1 hour.

Ihwa Village, Jangsu Village, and Naksan Park are the most known tourist spot in this course. Opens 24 hours but visitors are highly recommended to keep silent for the residents living in the village.

How to get here?

[Entrance to Naksan]
Hansung Univ. Station Exit 4 → 3 minutes walk
Hyehwa Station Exit 1 → 5 minutes walk

[Top of Naksan Park]
Hyehwa Station Exit 2 → 15 minutes walk
Dongdaemun Station Exit 5 → Jongno Town Bus No. 03 → Get off at Naksan Junction

[Naksan Park / Ihwa Village]
Hyehwa Station Exit 2 → 20 minutes on walk

[Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park]
Dongdaemun Station Exit 10 → 2 minutes on walk

Heunginjimun Gate Trail (Dongdaemun Gate Trail)

Dongdaemun Gate

This trail starts from Heunginjimun gate (Dongdaemun Gate or East Gate) and passes the Gwanghuimun gate and reaches the Jangchung  Arena. The walls in Heunginjimun are on the lowest ground that’s why two water gates (Ogansumun and Igansumun) were built here.  The water gates were built to prevent flooding in the city and the water leads to the streams outside the wall.

Dongdaemun Water Gates

With a distance of 1.8 km, the tour course will take about 1 hour. The main attraction that can be seen here are Dongdaemun Gate, Dongdaemun Market, site of the two water gates and the Gwanghuimun Gate. The Dongdaemun History and Culture Park which is known for its traditional and modern design is also one of the tourist attractions in this trail.

Jangchung-dong Residential Area is next to Gwanghuimun Gate and will lead to the Jangchung Area. Please be silent when passing the residential area for the sake of the residents.

How to get here?

[Heunginjimun or Dongdaemun]
Dongdaemun Station Exit 6 or 7 → 1 minute walk

[Dongdaemun History & Culture Park]
Dongdaemun Station Exit 7 → 10 minutes walk
Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station Exit 2 → 2 minutes on walk

[Jangchung Gymnasium]
Dongguk Univ. Station Exit 5 → 2 minutes walk

Namsan (Mongmyeoksan) Mountain Trail

Namsan Park

This trail starts from Jangchung Arena up to Baekbom Square at Namsan Park.  With a distance of 4.2 kilometers, the duration of the walking tour is about 3 hours. In this trail, visitors will see the central point of Seoul when reaching the top of Namsan Tower.

Namsan Palgakjeong Pavillion

Namsan Palgakjeong Pavillion and Site of Guksadang Shrine and the Site of Mongmyeoksan Beacon Mound can also be found at Namsan Tower. The National Theater of Korea is also included in the course where live performances of arts are held. In 1973, it was built in Jangchung-dong, Seoul.

Namsan Hanok Village is also part of the course which is a park with many traditional houses they called ‘hanok’. It was opened to the public in 1998 and many interesting events here so check the website for the schedule.

How to get here?

[Namsangol Hanok Village]
Chungmuro Station Exit 4 → 1 minute walk

[Jangchungdan Park]
Dongguk Univ. Station Exit 6 → 1 minute walk

[Jangchung Gymnasium]
Dongguk Univ. Station Exit 5 → 2 minutes walk

[Namsan Park Bus Stop]
Namsan Shuttle Bus No. 02, 03 or 05 → Get off at Namsan Park

[Namsan Public Library]
Namsan Shuttle Bus No. 02, 03 or 05 → Get off at Namsan Public Library

[Baekbeom Square]
Hoehyeon Station Exit 4 → 5 minutes walk
Myeongdong Station Exit 3 → 10 minutes walk

Sungnyemun Gate Trail

Namdaemun Gate

This walking tour course starts from the Baekbom Square and passes the Sungnyemun Gate (Namdaemun Gate), which is the main entrance to the capital and ends to the Site of Donuimun. It is the nearest gate from Hangang River, therefore, most of the people and goods pass this gate going to the capital and the Namdaemun Market once called as Morning Market established inside the gate while Chilpae Market was built outside.

The course distance is about 1.8 kilometers and will take about 1 hour. Some other sites to see are the site of Souimun Gate, the former Russian Legation, the Chungdong First Methodist Church and the Simpson Memorial Hall at Ewha Girls’ High School.

How to get here?

[Jeongdong-gil]
City Hall Station Exit 10→ 5 minutes walk

[Deoksugung]
City Hall Station Exit 2→ 1 minute walk

[Sungnyemun]
Seoul Station Exit 4→ 5 minutes walk

[Namdaemun Market]
Hoehyeon Station Exit 5→ 1 minute walk

Inwangsan Mountain Trail

Inwangsan Mountain

Ingwasan Mountain is located to the right of Seoul’s four inner mountains. This trail runs from the Site of Donuimun up to the Yun Dong-ju Hill. In addition, Ingwasan is also known as the rocky mountain where visitors can see the unusual rock formations like Chimabawi (Rock of women’s skirt), Seonbawi (Rock of a meditating monk), and Gichabawi (Rock of a train). Accessing the mountain was reopened to the public in 1993 after it was prohibited in 1968.

Ingwasan is a rocky mountain, therefore, visitors are asked to be more extra careful especially during the winter season. Lastly, the mountain operates 24 hours but closed on Mondays.

How to get here?

[Site of Donuimun]
Seodaemun Station Exit 4 → 2 minutes walk
Jongno Town Bus No.05 → Get off at the Kangbuk Samsung Medical Center → 1 minute walk

[Gyeonghuigung]
Gwanghwamun Station Exit 1 → 5 minutes walk

[Sajikdan]
Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 1 → 5 minutes  walk

[Guksadang of Inwangsan]
Dongnimmun Station Exit 2 → 20 minutes walk

[Inwangsan (toward Beombawi Rock)]
Muakjae Station Exit 2 → 30 minutes walk

[Inwangsan (toward the Top)]
Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 3 → Jongno Town Bus No. 09 → Get off at Okin Apartment → 30 minutes walk

[Inwangsan (toward Gichabawi Rock)]
Hongje Station Exit 2 → Jongno Town Bus No. 07 → Get off at Ant Village → 15 minutes walk

[Yun Dong-ju’s Hill]
Gyeongbokgung Palace Station Exit 3 → Green Bus No. 7212 or 1020 or 7022 → Get off at Jahamungogae → 2 minutes walk

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2 Comments

  1. I did the Inwangsan and the Dongdaemun trails… YUng sa Dongdaemun trail was sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan during the awarding for foreigners at the Seoul Together Day:-).

    • I would love to join the Walking Tour sponsored by the government but since I have a kid can’t do it this time. I’m waiting for him to grow up a little so I can teach him and share these things with him too.

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