When the Joseon King Jeongjo moved his father’s tomb to Suwon at the end of the 18th century, he surrounded it with strong defensive works, laid out according to the precepts of an influential military architect of the period, who brought together the latest developments in the field from both East and West. The massive walls, extending for nearly 6 km, still survive; they are pierced by four gates and equipped with bastions, artillery towers and other features.Outstanding Universal Value
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 5.74 km in length, enclose an area of 130 ha and follow the topography of the land. The Suwoncheon, the main stream in Suwon, flows through the centre of the fortress.
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 Paldalmun Gate in the south and the Janganmun Gate in the north are impressive two-storey wooden structures on stone bases, flanked by gated platforms and shielded by half-moon ravelins built of fired brick. They are linked to the main road running through the complex. The west (Hwaseomun) and east (Changnyongmun) gates are single-storey structures, also protected by ravelins.
The Hwaseong Fortress has had a great influence on the development of Korean architecture, urban planning, and landscaping and related arts. It differed from the fortresses in China and Japan in that it combined military, political and commercial functions. Its design by Jeong Yakyong, a leading scholar of the School of Practical Learning, was characterized by careful planning, the combination of residential and defensive features, and the application of the latest scientific knowledge. It represents the pinnacle of 18th century military architecture, incorporating ideas from some of the best examples in Europe and East Asia. Hwaseong is also unique in that it covers both flat and hilly land, making use of the terrain for maximum defensive efficacy.
A completion report for the building of Hwaseong Fortress, Hwaseong seongyeok uigwe, was published in 1801, which provides the details and particulars about its design and construction process.
Criterion (ii): 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.
Criterion (iii): Hwaseong combined traditional fortress building methods with an innovative site layout that enabled it to deliver defensive, administrative and commercial functions. Hwaseong is a testimony to the rapid social and technical developments of 18th century of Korea.
The key features of the Hwaseong Fortress, including the main walls, four main gates and various other defensive features of the complex are intact and are included within the boundaries of the property. The Suwoncheon Stream continues to flow through the heart of the city from the Hwahongmun Floodgate and the roads linking the main gates still function as the core of the road system.
The fortress originally comprised 48 elements, including the cardinal gates, floodgates, observation towers, command posts, multiple-arrow launcher platforms, embrasured firearms bastions, angle towers, secret gates, a beacon tower, gate-guard platforms, bastions and bunkers. Seven of these (one floodgate, one observation tower, one secret gate, two gate-guard platforms, and two bunkers) have been lost due to flooding and war. The meandering fortress wall has been pierced in nine places to accommodate the city’s traffic network.
The fortress is in good condition, but its conservation and maintenance require specialized skills. The greatest risk factor to Hwaseong is fire, which could damage the wooden components of its architecture. Another risk is weeds, which could damage the fortress walls and other features.
Rapid urbanization has meant that the four cardinal gates are exposed to smog and vibrations from vehicles in nearby streets, which could lead to their deterioration and should be managed.
The circuit of walls and most of their elements (gates, towers, bastions, etc.) preserve their authenticity with respect to the site, materials and techniques.
Considerable damage was caused to some parts of the Fortress during the Korean War. The Janganmun and Changnyongmun Gates were completely destroyed, and sections of the walls were demolished. However, restoration and reconstruction work, which began in 1964 and has continued since that time, has been carried out in accordance with the principles of the Venice Charter and Nara Document, based on the exhaustive information contained in the Hwaseong seongyeok uigwe.
Protection and management requirements
The Hwaseong Fortress has been designated as a State-designated Cultural Heritage under the Cultural Heritage Protection Act. The Paldalmun Gate and Hwaseomun Gate have also been designated as Treasures and the area enclosed by the fortress walls has been designated as a protection area under the same Act. A buffer zone extending 500 m from the fortress walls has been created, and a Historic Cultural Protection Area has been established under the Gyeonggi-do Province Cultural Heritage Protection Ordinance. These designations require that all interventions receive official authorization and that only qualified personnel carry out restoration and conservation work. The Suwon City World Cultural Heritage Hwaseong Management Ordinance regulates visitation and usage of Hwaseong and its associated facilities.
At the national level, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) is responsible for establishing and enforcing policies for the protection of Hwaseong and the surrounding areas, and allocating financial resources for its conservation. The periodically revised District Unit Plan of Suwon City sets limitations to the building coverage ratio, floor space index, and height of structures within and outside of the fortress. Criteria to guide alterations to the property are also employed. The Hwaseong Management Office, with approximately 30 employees, is in charge of day-to-day management. Regular day-to-day monitoring is conducted and in-depth professional monitoring is carried out on a 3 to 4 year basis.
The Suwon Hwaseong Management Foundation established under the authority of the Suwon City Ordinance, is responsible for operating the facilities, profit-generating projects at the site and the promotion of tourism.
Conservation work in Hwaseong is undertaken by Cultural Heritage Conservation Specialists who have passed the National Certification Exams in their individual fields of expertise. There are CCTVs and a 24-hour surveillance system with regular day and night patrols around the fortress. Personnel are allocated for the regular removal of weeds.
A scientific survey of all remaining un-restored sections of the fortress is planned, and research is being conducted into measures to prevent collapse resulting from vehicle vibrations.
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.
[in French only]
Victime d’une conspiration de la cour, le prince royal Sado Seja, fils de Yongjo, 2lème souverain Choson, est injustement condamné par son père et exécuté. Lorsque son fils Chongjo succède à Yongjo en 1776, il fait exhumer la dépouille de son père pour l’inhumer dans une tombe du Mont Hwasan, considéré comme le site tutélaire le plus favorable. Pour le repos de l’âme de son père, il fait construire le temple de Yongjusa à proximité et déplace le siège du gouvernement au pied du Mont P’altalsan, à Suwon.
Une autre raison pousse Chongjo à déplacer le siège du gouvernement : ce faisant, il peut mettre fin aux luttes de factions, affermir l’autorité du trône et offrir une plus grande sécurité à la cour abritée par les murs de la forteresse dont il a ordonné la construction. L’agencement de cet édifice repose sur les travaux de Chong Y ag-Yong, universitaire renommé de l’Ecole de l’Etude Pratique (Shirhak). Publiée en 1793 sous le titre « La stratégie des fortifications » (Songhwa Churyak), cette œuvre marquante couvre les développements orientaux et occidentaux de l’architecture militaire.
La construction est réalisée entre janvier 1794 et septembre 1796 sous la surveillance de Ch’ae ChaeGong, ex-ministre et magistrat de la préfecture de Yongjungch’u. Grues, poulies et autres éléments d’équipement spéciaux sont conçus et produits spécialement pour ce projet, ce dont il est fait état dans les Archives de la construction de la forteresse Hwasong (Hwasong Songyok Uigwe).
D’autres édifices sont érigés autour de la forteresse, notamment le palais provincial de Hwasong et Sajiktan, l’autel des sacrifices offerts aux divinités tutélaires de l’état. Ces structures ayant brûlé lors de guerres et rébellions ultérieures, seul le Hall Nangnamhon, annexe du palais provincial, subsiste encore à l’heure actuelle. Malgré la destruction ou l’endommagement de certaines parties de la forteresse pendant l’occupation japonaise et la Guerre de Corée, l’existence des Archives a permis de la restaurer sous sa forme initiale authentique
Source: Advisory Body Evaluation
Hwaseong Fortress (UNESCO/NHK)
World Heritage Committee Inscribes 46 New Sites on World Heritage List Dec 7, 1997
Korea Tourism Organization
Cultural Properties Administration
Republic of Korea
N37 16 19.992 E127 0 29.988
Date of Inscription: 1997
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