Once a resting shelter and vacation destination for kings, the grounds of Hwaseong Haenggung in Suwon, South Korea are now a site where locals and tourists can learn about Korean royal history and culture. Despite recent renovations, every inch of the palace has a story to tell. So much so, in fact, that when I visited there recently, I could almost sense the spirits of Korea’s dynastic leaders luring me back in time for a glimpse into the country’s captivating past.
One of the first things I noticed about Hwaseong Haenggung was that it was quite small compared to other royal structures I have visited throughout Asia. I soon learned, however, that what the palace lacks in size, it makes up for in grandeur.
Suwon is quite proud of its Hwaseong Fortress, and rightfully so. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage, and the biggest tourist draw to the area. A place not as visited by the tourists is the nearby Hwaseong Haenggung (수원화성행궁) – a detached palace that was also used as both a government office and a retreat for the king. First built in 1789 and completed in 1796, the palace was reconstructed a bit more recently. Above is part of the open-air plaza with a huge glimpse at the number of people used in the ceremonies.