This weekend Seoul Secrets dusted off its hiking boots in search of a brisk spring hike without leaving Seoul. For a great a view of the city skyline at sunset look no further than Inwangsan Mountain located just north of Gyeongbokgung Palace, this highly sacred ‘Benevolent King’ Mountain is the Shamanic centre of Seoul. This area is also the home to some spots of historical value worth checking out!
To get to this area take the Subway Line 3 (orange line) to Dongnimmun and take Exit 2, as soon as you leave Exit 2 walk 1-2 minutes and you will see the sign pointing to the left showing you the route up the mountain. But before beginning the ascend its worth checking out some of the other sites near this station. After scouting around the area there didn’t seem to be any clear stand out cafes or restaurants so would highly suggest bringing a picnic or a packed lunch for this one!
The first place you’ll see as you cross the main road from Exit 2 will be Seodaemun prison, built by the Japanese near the end of the Joseon Dynasty. It was were Japanese soldiers would torture and then execute Korean followers of the Independence Movement.
Open pretty much all year round to visitors apart from a few holiday periods, you can enter any time between 9.30 -6.00 for 3000 won.
The next quite adequate place to check out is the Independence Gate, located just a stroll away from the prison via the park area. This gate was built to replace Yeongeunmun Gate which was a symbol of diplomatic relations between Korea and Qing Dynasty. The Independence Gate was built following the First Sino-Japanese War to inspire a spirit of independence away from Korea’s previous status as a Chinese tributary state.
This gate is surrounded by a nice little park area, that is surprisingly peaceful for central Seoul and an ideal spot for picnic before or after your hike.
After checking out the Seodaemun Independence Park head back towards Exir 2 and begin the ascend up the mountain, to start with you will pass through quite a built up residential area of apartment blocks. Once you past the blocks you will see the archway of a temple ahead of you.
As you keep ascending you will come across Seonbawi Rock and Inwangsa Temple. This unique rock formation has been a shamanic worship site since before recorded history. A peaceful site with an aroma of burning incense that signals the starting point for the actually mountain hike.
Follow the steps to the right of the rock formation and continue your meandering ascend. There are many paths leading off in different directions so just keep walking with the large stone wall to your right. Your aim will be to find some black wooden stairs which allows you to join the stone walking path.
Finally after about 40 minutes of hiking you should reach the summit of the mountain, we highly recommend taking this hike just before sunset to fully experience the sun setting over this awesome city and the illuminations of Seoul’s many lights coming to life. There is only one thing left to do once you reach the top… and that’s to crack open a much deserved beer with friends and enjoy the view!