Ganghwa island is the fifth largest island in Korea and is located in the West Sea. It is composed of 11 inhabited islands and 17 uninhabited islands, and its beaches are 99 km long. Recently with the creation of the Ganghwa Bridge, the island has become more like the mainland.
Because there were people living on this island from the prehistoric times, there are many ancient artifacts on the island. The most famous of these are the Goindol Rocks, designated as World’s Cultural Treasure. The Goindol graves are where the rulers of the Ganghwa Island in the Bronze Age are buried. There are about 80 of these stone graves around the island.
There is also evidence of the Dangunwanggeom, the founding figure of Korea whose life marks the beginning of Korean history. If you walk up the many steps of Chamseongdan in Mani Mountain, you will come to a peak where you can see the West Sea and the inland. This is where Dangunwanggeom is said to have offered sacrificial rites to the heavens.
Ganghwa Island has many famous local products, including the medicinally effective Ganghwa Ginseng, Pure-Ganghwa radish with its peculiar taste, and Hwamunseok, which is a mat woven with flower patterns. Hwamunseok is famous also as a representative traditional Korean product, with its intricate handwork and designs.
Ganghwa Peace Observatory
Ganghwa Peace Observatory was constructed in the northern area of the Civilian Restricted Zone in Cheolsan-ri, Yangsa-myeon. Entry to this area was once strictly prohibited for the general public. Since it opened in 2008, the observatory has been providing accessibility to visitors to see the area's natural ecosystem. Ganghwa Peace Observatory also shows images related to the Korean War (1950-1953). The basement floor and fourth floor are used as a military facility.
The observatory houses shops selling Ganghwa specialty food and North Korea’s specialty food, a management office, wishing wall for unification, and a rest area on the first floor, an exhibition hall to see the traces of war as well as high-technology binoculars on the second floor, and the observing facility to see the area of North Korea on the thrid floor, and a screen facility to show the entire view on cloudy days.
The exhibition hall on the second floor presents Ganghwa’s military experience, North Korea’s provocation, comparison of military powers between South and North Korea, unification policy, and other war-related exhibitions. The observation area where one can see the land of North Korea includes Yeseonggang River, 2.3km long, Gaeseong Industrial Complex, the meeting point of Imjingang River and Hangang River, Aegibong Peak Observatory in Gimpo, Unification Observatory in Odusan Mountain, Paju, Ilsan new town, Songaksan Mountain, and other areas.
In particular, Ganghwa which is home to history and culture is planning to offer the best service in tourism on a themed course which combines history and cultural sites for tourists who plan for a one day trip.
Jeondeungsa Temple was originally called Jinjongsa during the Goryeo Dynasty. It functioned as a sanctuary enshrining family ancestors. Jeondeungsa Temple is located in Samrangseong Fortress, which is said to have been built by the three sons of Dangun, the founder of Korea.
Jeondeungsa Temple contains significant architectural works, including the main building Daeungbojeon. Decorated with delicate carvings, it is a superlative example of the architecture of the mid-Joseon Dynasty. The canopy situated above the Buddha statue inside Daeungbojeon building showcases masterful workmanship. On the walls and columns of Daeungbojeon, visitors can see names of soldiers written on the walls. These soldiers fought against the French Navy and wrote their names in Jeondeungsa to pray to Buddha for good luck in war.
There are ten other structures of historical significance at the temple including Yaksajeon (Treasure No. 179), Beomjong Bell (Treasure No. 393, constructed in the 11th century), and Yangheonsu Victory Monument (Tangible Cultural Treasure No. 26). The compound is also home to many ancient trees.
Gwangseongbo Fortress’s outer wall from the Goryeo era was mended in 1618. The fortress was built in 1656 and the outpost was constructed in 1679. It was completely remodeled into a masonry castle with gates in 1745. During Sinmiyangyo (the American invasion in 1871), Gwangseongbo was the fiercest battle ground in Ganghwa.
On April 24, 1871, a fleet with 1,230 American naval forces led by Rear Admiral John Rodgers landed on Ganghwado Island to demand the opening of Korea's ports and commerce. The armed forces attacked Chojijin Fortress and Deokjinjin Camp, then marched to Gwangseongbo Fortress, where they engaged in close combat with the warriors of Joseon. Although General Eo Jae-yeon and the other warriors were poorly equipped with far inferior weapons, they bravely fought to the death against the invading forces.
The battlefield ruins of the fortress and the gate towers such as Anhaeru, Gwangseongdon, Sondolmokdon, and Yongdudon were repaired in 1977. The twin tombs of General Eo Jae-Yeon and his brother Eo Jae-seon, along with the anonymous tombs of warriors who died on the battlefield were also honorably arranged at the same time. Furthermore, a stone monument commemorating the restoration of Ganghwa Battlefield was erected on Yongdudondae Post.
In 1988, an extensive rest area was created toward the shore for visitors’ convenience. Gwangseongbo Fortress is presently designated as Historical Relic No. 227. A religious service known as Gwangseongje is held annually to commemorate the patriotic spirits of General Eo Jae-yeon and other unnamed warriors. This service takes place at 11 a.m. on every April 24th of the lunar calendar.
Ganghwa History Museum
Ganghwa History Museum opened in 2010, and is located inside Ganghwa Dolmen Park, which was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Historic Site No. 137.
The museum aims to exhibit, preserve and educate about the history and culture of Ganghwa from prehistoric ages to modern times based on artifacts from the area.
Highlight of Tour Spot
Ganghwa Peace Observatory is opened September 9th, 2008 in the Civilian Control Line in northern forest land of Cheolsan-ri, Yangsa-myeon where was restricted area. It is the place to feel unique northern culture very close.
There are high performance telescope, experience Ganghwa national defense and provocation of North Korea, comparison national defense power between South and North Korea, unification policy for endless war and the way to gather as the same Korean race, the times and backgrounds of the Korean War, and visual facilities to watch damage conditions of the tragedy in the exhibition room of second floor. And observatory in the third floor, you can look around the view of North Korea.
Observatory shows life style of North Korean, created town for disguise, Gaeseong Industrial Complex Tower, Songaksan, and various obstacles and also provides screen for bad weathers. The most well-known temple in Ganghwa is Jeondeungsa. This temple is not only the tourist spot or only for praying Buddhist monks. This is the site of history with the Korean race’s glory and pain from Dangun the legendary founding father of Gojoseon to today.
Ganghwa have many places with many histories at once as the flourished region since the Stone Age. The temple is placed Samrangseong(three-stars castle) where Dangun’s three sons built. It is very uncommon case that temple is in a castle, thus it has no iljumun(one pillar gate) to show where the entrance is and also no Four Devas(the four heavenly guardians of Buddhism).
Climb up to the Jeondeungsa and enjoy historical background of the love story between King Chungryul and princess from Yuan. Gwangseongbo where General Eo was dead in invasion of U.S warships in 1871 lead other historical military bases and camps in scale. You can see beautiful Yongdudondae(the natural military base) following down a walkway. There are also photos of Gwangseongbo battles when it was used in invasion of invasion of France in 1866, and invasion of U.S. in 1871.
Heungseondaewongun(regent , the father of Emperor Kojong) make the Anti-foreign Stele and resolve not to in amity with the West because of this historical accident. Checking out historical backgrounds of site with your children and share the information will make the experiences fresher and easier to remember. Ganghwado is the fourth biggest size of island in Korea and easy to approach from capital area where have lively plentiful and histories of Korea. Ganghwa History Museum is the first place to visit before touring Ganghwa to look around its past days at once.Ganghwa is perfect for explore cultural heritage.
The whole island is the cradle of Korean history including from the Stone Age to Goryeo, Joseon Dynasty. Dolmen in Ganghwa was designated a world heritage site from UNESCO with Hwasun, Jeonnam &Gochang, Jeonbuk. Also Ganghwa is the field that Goryeo army resisted Mongolian army, and fought to win the Manchu War and the western powers in the end of the Joseon Dynasty. Ganghwa History Museum in Ganghwa Dolmen Park is essential place to visit to learn the history of Ganghwa and also Korea.
You will explore Ganghwado, a fascinating island that is often called a microcosm of Korean history. But, due to its strategic location, Ganghwado has historically been one of the first targets of many foreign attacks particularly in the late 19th century when Korea unsuccessfully sought to maintain its status as a "Hermit Kingdom."Visit Ganghwa History Museum displaying historical records of the entire spectrum of Korean existence, from the mythical foundation of Korea to the opening port to the outside World marked by Ganghwado Treaty signed in February 1876.
Near museum is Korea's first Anglican Church, which is a notably unusual church with Western, Korean, Christian, Buddhist and Confucian influences, and Goryeo Palace site where several Goryeo kings resided (1232-1270) during their tenacious 39-year resistance against Mongol invaders.You will see Ganghwa Dolmen, one of the most famous dolmens in Korea.
A 50-ton capstone, 7.1 meters long, 5.5 meters wide and 1 meter thick, rests on two sturdy supporting prop stones. This prehistoric dolmen including many others in Gochang and Hwasun has been registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage for their archaeological value. Next, stop off at Ginseng market selling variety of ginseng products from raw roots to extracts. This mysterious root has historically been considered an empowering medicine and an aphrodisiac in Korea.
It is effective in recovering the liver's functions, improving anticancer and immunity functions, and treating diabetes, hypertension, low blood pressure and stress. Ginseng also facilitates recovery from fatigue and the activation of nervous cells. Apart from the ginseng, you will see a typical example of local market where many elderly women selling fishes, home-grown vegetables and grains on the roadsides nearby.Jeondeungsa dating back to the 3rd century is an active Buddhist temple providing a glimpse into the Buddhist culture.
The temple came into prominence during the late Goryeo period (918-1392) when King Gojong commissioned the famous TripitakaKoreana wood blocks to be carved there which are now preserved in Haeinsa temple. Within the main worship, you will see Sakyamuni Buddha who is flanked on the left by Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Perfect Wisdom, and on the right by Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Perfect Compassionate Action.
As you approach the hall, look carefully way up in the eaves at the corners of the roof, and there you can just see tiny human figures, one at each corner. One version says that the forsaken carpenter carved his two-timing girl up in the rafters, eternally bearing the burden of her deceitfulness. It is also worth noting a dharma bell dating back to 1097.
It is the only Chinese bell designated as a Korean treasure.Lastly, explore one of the fortresses, Chojijin, that speaks to the battles against the French Navy led by Admiral Pierre-Gustave Roze in October 1866, the American Asia fleet under the commander Roger in 1871, and the collision with the Japanese ship Unyomaru in 1875.
- Ganghwa History Museum
- Goryo Palace Site
- Ganghwa Dolmen
- Ganghwa Fortress