Tourists listen to a guide on a cultural tour at the Gongsan Fortress in Sanseong-dong, Gongju, in South Chuncheong Province on Aug. 19, exploring their surroundings. The fortress is a representative site of the Baekje Kingdom.
It’s easy to see that Gongsan Fortress is no ordinary site, with the solemn figure of a carved guard keeping watch. The meandering ivy mingles with the surrounding forest that encloses the mountain castle, which in turn grasps firmly to the swooping ranges, speaking of its long history. Looking down from the watchtower affords the visitor a view unmatched in its beauty. This stronghold is said to be representative of the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C.-660 A.D.), located in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province. These consecrated walls were once called Ungjin Fortress, which protected the seat of government in the eponymous capital, now present-day Gongju. In ancient times, King Munju (475 A.D.) moved the capital of Baekje from Seoul to Ungjin and the fortress was built around the new hub, protecting five generations of rulers for 64 years. The altitude of the fortress at 110 meters forms a fortified area from the western peak of the mountain. The total perimeter of the fortress more than 2,660-meters-long, running 800 meters from east to west and 400 meters north to south, is in a rectangular form. The ridges and valleys of the fortress follow curved shapes, and the original earthen ramparts were rebuilt by Joseon ancestors. Today, the ramparts are conserved at a height of 2.5 meters and a width of three meters. In The fortress location itself has great significance, housed inside the Chujeong Wanggungji, a royal ground built on the site where the capital first began construction. It’s pleasant to take a stroll on the forest paths and fortress roads, and on the weekends the fortress guards open the ``Ungjin Fortress Changing of the Guards.’’ The event provides an opportunity to relive the days of the Baekje Period through historical research, via traditional costumes and props. In This year, the special one-month 2010 Great Baekje World Festival will be held from Sept. 18. A myriad of events will be held in the historic sites of Gongju and the nearby county of Buyeo, with performances, and a chance for both local and overseas visitors to gain insight to the daily life during the era from performances, interactive activities, exhibitions and programs. In a multimedia aspect, visitors can also learn about the history of Gongsan Fortress through cell phone applications offered by the site’s information desk. . For more information, visit http://tour.gongju.go.kr or call (041) 856-7700.