Cheonggyecheon is a public recreation space in downtown Seoul, South Korea. created as part of an urban renewal project in restoration of the stream that was once there during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
The site is originally known as Gaecheon (Gae Cheon or a stream), the stream was renamed Cheonggyecheon (Cheong Gye Cheon or clear water stream) during the Japanese colonial period. It is more than 15 ft (4.6 m) below street level and 10.9 km (7.0 miles) long. It features a 5.8 km stream flowing west to east crossing 22 overhead bridges through downtown Seoul, and then meeting Jungnangcheon, which in turn connects to the Han River and empties into the Yellow Sea.
I went here 7:38 p.m. KST on January 19, 2014. This was during my first time in South Korea, the second country on my list.
Cheonggyecheon (Cheong Gye Cheon or clear water stream)
Cheonggyecheon flows west to east through downtown Seoul, and then meeting Jungnangcheon, which in turn connects to the Han River and empties into the Yellow Sea.
Cheonggye Plaza marks the Cheonggyecheon’s starting point. It stretches from Mojeon Bridge all the way to Sindapcheolgyo. The Plaza is roughly 160m long and 50m wide (8,000 square meters) and has a beautiful fountain, an artificial waterfall, and a miniature replica of Cheonggyecheon, as well as a walking path. The area commemorates the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project, and also symbolizes gathering, harmony, peace, and unity.
The two main attractions of Cheonggye Plaza are the “Spring” Tower and the Candlelight Fountain. “Spring” is a sculpture by Swedish pop artist, Claes Oldenburg and serves as a striking backdrop for the wide variety of cultural events held at the plaza. The Candlelight Fountain is a 4 m long, two-layered waterfall that flows into the stream, and marks the start of Cheonggyecheon’s flowing current towards the Han River.
The Plaza also includes a model of Cheonggyecheon that provides visitors with a bird’s-eye view of the Cheonggyecheon.
What to see
Cheonggye Plaza – This plaza marks the Cheonggyecheon’s starting point. A colorful spiral sculpture, a miniature etching of the stream, and a grand waterfall and fountain meet stones from eight provinces symbolizing harmony and eventual Korean reunification.
Mojeon is the first bridge.
Gwangtong Bridge is an ancient bridge built during the early Joseon Dynasty and was the ancient Seoul’s largest stone bridge. Its current placement is approximately 150m from its original location. It is the second bridge.
Gwang is the third bridge.
Banchado is a 192-meter long illustration of a visit by King Jeongjo to suwon castle, painted on 5,120 ceramic tiles. It is located between Gwang (#3) and Samil (#5) bridges.
Samil is the fifth bridge.
is the sixth bridge.
is the seventh bridge.
is the eighth bridge.
is the ninth bridge.
is the tenth bridge.
is the eleventh bridge.
is the twelfth bridge.
is the thirteenth bridge.
is the fourteenth bridge.
is the fifteenth bridge.
Dasan is the sixteenth bridge.
Laundry Site is a reminder of the stream’s value for ordinary citizens for centuries. It is located between Dasan (#16) and Yeongdo (#17) bridges.
Yeongdo is the seventeenth bridge.
Hwanghak is the eighteenth bridge.
Wall of Hopes are the decorated walls of both sides of the stream. 20,000 citizens decorated 10 x 10 cm ceramic tiles with written wishes and drawings at the walls. It is located between Hwanghak (#18) and Biudang (#19) bridges.
Biudang is the nineteenth bridge.
Jonchigyogak are the remaining support pillars, all that’s left of Cheonggye Expressway Overpass. It is located just before Muhak bridge (#20).
is the twentieth bridge.
is the twenty first bridge.
Cheonggycheon Museum is a 6-storey structure featuring seminar rooms and exhibits on the stream’s past and present. It is straddling Gosanja bridge (#22).
Gosanja is the twenty second bridge.
Willow Wetland (Beodeulseubji) is a wetland reclamation area featuring pussy willows, river bulrush, and iris planted to secure habitats for fish, birds, and amphibians. It is located after Gosanja Bridge (#22).
Tunnel Fountain (Haneulmulteo)
1 Mojeon, 2 Gwangtong (largest of Cheonggyecheon’s bridges), 3 Gwang, 5 Samil, 11 Majeongyo, 12 Naraegyo, 13 Beodeuldari, 14 Ogansugyo, 15 Malgeunnaedari, 16 Dasan, 17 Yeongdo, 18 Hwanghak, 19 Biudang, 20 Muhak, 22 Dumuldari
How to get to Cheonggyecheon
Because of its span, you may take Seoul Subway Lines 1,2,3,4, or 5.
If you take Seoul Subway Lines 1 or 2, get of at City Hall Station (#132/#201), and take Exit 4. Walk 250 meters north to Cheonggye Plaza.
If you take Seoul Subway Line 3, get off at Jongno 3-ga Station and walk to Cheonggyecheon.
If you take Seoul Subway Line 4, get off at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park. Walk 800 meters to Cheonggyecheon.
If you take Seoul Subway Line 5, get off at Gwanghwamun Station, and take Exit 5. Walk 100 meters south to Cheonggye Plaza.
Note: Seoul Subway Line 1 runs along much of the stream’s north bank from City Hall Station to Sinseol-dong Station.
Walking Tour Course Information
There are two suggested walking course (http://english.sisul.or.kr/grobal/cheonggye/eng/WebContent/sub_tour.jsp). Course 1 starts from Cheonggyecheon Plaza and ends at Ogansugyo. Course 2 starts from Cheonggyecheon Museum and ends at Ogansugyo.
You can take an organized walking tour (register online in advance) or do it yourself.
Course 1 (Distance: 2.7 kilometers/Duration: 2.5 hours)
Cheonggyecheon Plaza → Gwangtonggyo Bridge → Samilgyo Bridge (Jongno & Insa-dong) → Temporary pedestrian bridge (the site for Supyogyo) → Seabyeokdari Bridge (Gwangjang Market & Bangsan Market) → Ogansugyo Bridge (Dongdaemun & Dongdaemun Fashion Town)
Course 2 (Distance: 2.6 kilometers /Duration: 2.5 hours)
Cheonggyecheon Museum → Dumuldari Bridge → Muhakgyo Bridge → Biudanggyo Bridge → Hwanghakgyo Bridge → Yeongdogyo (Bridge) → Dasangyo Bridge → Malgeunnaedari Bridge → Ogansugyo Bridge (Dongdaemun & Dongdaemun Fashion Town)
Seoul, South Korea
Sources: visitseoul.net, english.seoul.go.kr, discoveringkorea.com