CONTRIBUTED BY AMY HICKERSON
The Seoul Fortress was originally built in the late 1300s to protect the city during the Joseon Dynasty. Through several occupations and the Korean War much of the wall was demolished and destroyed. Today there are several gates and sections still remaining, lending themselves to a unique hike in the city; a combination of urban and rural hiking. It is considered Historic Site #10, and is 18.6km long.
My husband read that you can pick up a map of the entire wall at Seoul City Hall, and can get stamps along the way. We decided to check it out and complete the hike as a family. We went to City Hall and got our maps (go to the B1 information desk), and planned our routes. I have a few friends who have done it all at once, but it’s pretty physically demanding, so with a 9 yr old in tow, we decided to break it up into 4 sections. Currently, we have done 2 of the sections.
The map shows the entire route, along with elevation changes of each section, information on how to get to each section (subway directions, landmarks), and specific instructions for some of the sections (passports are needed for the section that goes by The Blue House).
The back of the map has 4 circles for the stamps you collect along the way. When you have all of them, you are supposed to be able to turn in the map for a “commemorative badge”… I’m not really sure yet what the badge is, but I had the idea for us to only turn in two maps, let our son have one of the badges, and with the other badge and the map we keep, have them framed together as a memento of our time here.
We have very much enjoyed the two hikes we have done so far, and are looking forward to our next two sections. Something that is important to mention is that if you do take children, the trails are NOT stroller friendly (there are lots of stairs).
Another thing to mention is that in some of the sections the trail is hard to follow (when you are doing your “urban” sections), but if you look for these trail markers you can make sure you are on the right path.
What we have enjoyed the most is seeing Seoul from different perspectives as we circle the city. We have seen some amazing views, and met some interesting people along the way.
And, of course, the best part of the hike is getting our stamp at the end of the section we have completed that day!