Discover the place where the Great West Gate of Hanyang once stood in what is now a surprisingly diverse outer suburb of Seoul.
Seodaemun-gu, just northwest of the Seoul city center, shows you a very different side of modern, bustling Seoul. Visit the natural history museum, a historic prison, the Bongwon Temple and the oldest train station in Seoul. Get some downtime by a babbling stream and on a forest-clad mountain.
Seodaemun means “Great West Gate” in Korean. This “gu” (district) was once home to one of the gates of the walled Joseon capital of Hanyang. Today, Seodaemun District is a pleasant residential area with a wide range of heritage attractions and leisure activities.
While Seodaemun is the name of a station on subway line 5, head for the Hongje station or Dongnimmun station instead to see the main sights.
Seodaemun-gu is home to Mount Ansan. Standing just 967 feet (295 meters) tall and with trees providing ample shade, it’s a nice place to go for a hike. You’ll be joining the locals, who regularly exercise here among the wild flowers, pine trees and cherry blossom trees. A track called Jarak-gil loops around the mountain and offers different views of Seoul on every turn. Take in the sea of skyscrapers, which stretches as far as the eye can see. Once at the summit, stand by the stone Ansan Beacon Mound to see Seoul Tower on Namsan Mountain.
Don’t miss the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History, just to the west, and the Bongwon Buddhist Temple with a lotus garden on the mountain’s southern slope.
Hongjecheon Stream, a tributary of the Hangang River, flows through the neighborhood and is best reached from Hongje station. Admire its musical fountain and waterfall and follow its walking paths.
Seodaemun Independence Park, built on the former Seoul Gochiso (Detention Camp), is home to the towering Dongnimmun (Independence) Gate. Next door, visit the Seodaemun Prison History Hall to learn more about the Japanese Colonial Era.
For something more uplifting, go fashion shopping in the streets surrounding the old Sinchon Railway Station, Seoul’s first train station.This is also the area of Seodaemun-gu where you’ll find the more trendy cafés, attracting the students of the Ehwa Women’s University.