Enjoy Snowy Landscapes and Study History – Five Fortresses in Northern Gyeonggi Province Recommended for Winter Trips

Createdd 2019-12-10 Hit 61

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○ Five fortresses in northern Gyeonggi Province recommended for winter trips to enjoy snowy landscapes and study history
– Horogoruseong Fortress of Yeoncheon, Wollongsanseong Fortress of Paju, Banwolsanseong Fortress of Pocheon, Daemosanseong Fortress of Yangju, and Bukhansanseong Fortress of Goyang

Winter has come, the season during which snowflakes turn the whole world white. This is a meaningful season to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the New Year. Many people plan winter trips so as to make New Year’s resolutions with a fresh state of mind.

Of particular note, the northern part of Gyeonggi Province features a number of celebrated mountains and historical sites. In winter, travelers rush to the area to enjoy the beautiful snowy landscapes. Here are five fortresses in northern Gyeonggi Province recommended as winter trip destinations for enjoying both the magnificence of nature and the rich history of the area.

1. The spirit of Goguryeo flows loftily along the Imjingang River – Horogoruseong Fortress in Yeoncheon-gun (Historic Site No. 467)

Along with Dangposeong and Eundaeriseong, Horogoruseong Fortress is one of three fortresses from the period of Goguryeo that is representative of Yeoncheon-gun. This ancient triangular fortification is located by the Imjingang River in Wondang-ri, Jangnam-myeon. Horogoruseong Fortress is presumed to have been built during the Goguryeo era around the 4th century while the kingdom expanded southward against Baekje and Silla to hold sway over the Imjingang River. In fact, a range of artifacts from that period, including convex tiles, ink stones, and gilt bronze Buddhist statues, have been excavated here.

The river flowing under the fortress wall is not very deep, so one can manage to cross it on foot during the dry season. For that reason, up until the division of the Korean Peninsula, it was one of the primary land transportation routes connecting between Pyeongyang and Seoul. Moreover, the fortress is famous as a spot from which to appreciate the magnificent sight of columnar jointing, stone formations created over hundreds of thousands of years. With precipices measuring as high as 20 meters standing on either side of the fortress, it would certainly have been a stronghold blessed with natural barriers for defense. This is also a great photo spot against the backdrop of the wide open river scene.

There is a tourist center nearby where visitors can learn about the history of Horogoruseong Fortress. A tour of the fortresses of Goguryeo along the Imjingang River from Chiljungseong Fortress in Paju in the east to Eundaeriseong Fortress in the west is also recommended.

2. The “Grand Canyon” of northern Gyeonggi Province – Wollongsanseong Fortress in Paju City (Gyeonggi-do Monument No. 196)

Built along the ridge of Wollongsan Mountain in Paju City, Wollongsanseong Fortress provides broader views across the Imjingang River, Hangang River, and Paju Plain, and even as far as Ganghwado Island, Bukhansan Mountain, and Gwanaksan Mountain on a clear day. It has thus been regarded as a natural stronghold since ancient times.

Wollongsanseong Fortress, which encircles the top of Wollongsan Mountain like a headband, is characteristically built using natural rock faces standing as tall as over 20 meters above ground. The circumference of the outer wall of the fortress alone measures 1,300 meters. Unfortunately, most of the wall and structures of the fortress gates have been lost. Considering the grid-patterned earthenware, an artifact from the period of Baekje, found here during an excavation in 2003, this fortress is presumed to have been built during the period of Hanseong Baekje in early stages of the Three Kingdoms. It appears that Baekje defended itself from Goguryeo using Wollongsanseong Fortress, pushing southward, and dominated the trade network with China via the Hangang River and Imjingang River.

Among hikers, Wollongsanseong Fortress is known as the “Korean Grand Canyon”. The magnificence of the dark ocher-colored cliffs and rocks is comparable to that of the Grand Canyon in the US. In addition to the exotic features of the mountain, the beautiful scenery adds to the enjoyment of hiking. Visitors are recommended to stop by the nearby Yongsangsa Temple, a Buddhist temple where King Hyeonjong of Goryeo is said to have stayed during a war against the Liao Dynasty, and Yongjuseowon Confucian Academy, which was established in commemoration of Baek In-geol, a government employee praised for his morality and integrity.

3. The last dream of Gung Ye – Banwolsanseong Fortress in Pocheon City (Historic Site No. 403)

Located in Gunnae-myeon of Pocheon City, Banwolsanseong Fortress was built around the top of Cheongseongsan Mountain. This is a fortress from the era of the Three Kingdoms and is the largest in scale among fortresses located in Pocheon City. It was named Banwol (half-moon) for its shape. Among the other celebrated spots in Pocheon City, such as Myeongseongsan Mountain and Yeou Pass, Banwolsanseong Fortress is famous for the legend of Gung Ye, the king of Taebong Kingdom in the Later Three Kingdom period. According to a folktale, this is the site where Gung Ye, while chased by Wang Geon, attempted a last counterattack, but failed.

Contrary to the legend that it was built by Gung Ye, the time of construction of this fortress is presumed to have been during the period of the Three Kingdoms, as a large number of artifacts from Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla were excavated here. In fact, one of the excavated artifacts was a roof tile fragment with the inscription of “Maholsuhaegonggudan”. “Mahol” is the old name of Pocheon used in Goguryeo.

Built on the guardian mountain of Pocheon City, the fortress overlooks the city’s downtown area. Banwolsanseong Fortress is now visited by a large number of people, as visitors can drive all the way up to the entrance to the fortress and the area has become famous as a sunrise-viewing spot. The nearby attractions include: “Aegidangji”, a shrine for a patron saint; “Pocheon Hyanggyo”, a local Confucian school; “Cheongseong History Park”, a great picnic spot; and “Pocheon Banweol Art Hall”, the center of art and culture in Pocheon City.

4. In search of Silla’s spirit to unify the Three Kingdoms – Daemosanseong Fortress in Yangju City (Historic Site 526)

Located at the junction of the Imjingang River and the Hangang River, Daemosanseong Fortress was built around the top of Daemosan Mountain. It is also called “Yangjusanseong”. Estimated to have been built during the era of the Three Kingdoms between the late 6th century and early 7th century, some presume it to be the same fortress as Maesoseong (or Maechoseong) where Silla, after its unification of the Three Kingdoms, defeated the Tang Dynasty in a bloody battle.

With its original form being relatively well preserved, this fortress is deemed to be of important academic value as it embodies the fortification techniques and structures used in ancient times. It is noteworthy that the remaining gate of this fortress is in the form of a suspended gate, which is a style seen mainly in the fortresses of the Silla Dynasty. A suspended gate is accessed via a ladder through a large hole in the fortress. This affirms that Daemosanseong Fortress was an important strategic location at the time.

Daemosanseong Fortress is situated along a mountain ridge stretching from Bukgoksan, the guardian mountain of Yangju City, to Hongboksan, which is also a popular hiking course. The top of Daemosan Mountain provides a glorious view over not only the magnificent features of Bulgoksan Mountain, but also the urban area of Baekseok-eup. A tour of fortresses around Yangju basin, such as Bokgoksan Bastion and Doraksan Bastion, offers an interesting way to enjoy the area.

5. The capital defense command of King Sukjong, who dreamed of national restoration – Bukhansanseong Fortress in Goyang City (Historic Site No. 162)

Bukhansanseong Fortress, which extends approximately 13 kilometers from Goyang City of Gyeonggi Province to the Seoul area, is a mountain fortress that includes 28 peaks of varying sizes in Bukhansan National Park including Baegundae, Mangyeongdae, and Nojeokbong.

From the era of the Three Kingdoms to the Joseon Dynasty, Bukhansan Mountain had been a strategic location for defense of the Hangang River basin. King Gaero of Baekje built earthen fortifications in this area, and King Jinheung of Silla, who established the foundation for the unification of the Three Kingdoms, erected Sunsubi, a monument commemorating his border inspection. There is also a record that General Choi Yeong of the Goryeo Dynasty defended the area against a Japanese invasion by stationing his army at Jungheungsanseong. Bukhansanseong Fortress as it remains today was rebuilt by King Sukjong of the Joseon Dynasty through the mobilization of approximately 40,000 young men and Buddhist monks. This is an outcome of the king’s resolution to never again suffer the disgrace endured during the Manchu invasion. The site of Seoamsa Temple, where the Buddhist monk army stayed to defend the fortress, still remains.

Bukhansan Mountain is especially well known for its majestic features and is thus celebrated as one of the five main mountains on the Korean Peninsula along with Baekdusan, Jirisan, Geumgangsan and Myohyangsan Mountain since the days when it was called Samgaksan. Nicknamed the “roofless museum”, this mountain retains a large number of Buddhist temples and cultural properties including Jungseongmun Gate, Sanyeongru Pavilion, the post of Hullyeondogam, Jungheungsa Temple, and Taegosa Temple. Visitors are urged to feel the “breath” of history while walking around the Temporary Palace Site at Bukhansanseong Fortress. The Museum of Bukhan-dong History, depicting the lives of residents in the village near the fortress wall, is another must-see spot.

“The fortress is a historical shrine filled with patriotic spirit and the ‘breath’ of our ancestors,” said Gyeonggi Province’s Spokesperson for Peace Kim Hyo-eun. “I recommend a winter trip to the fortress to make New Year’s resolutions while overlooking the beautiful snowy landscape and experiencing the history and the wisdom of our ancestors.”