|An excellent look at the west face of Gwanak-san, with government
communication towers on its peaks, taken from Samseong-san.
|As far up on Gwanak-san's
craggy peak as hikers can go
Gwanak-san hosts several important Buddhist temples. Most
famous and sacred is Yeonju-dae Cliff-Shrine (left) and the
Yeonju-am Hermitage; also on its slopes are the new Gwaneum
-sa and historic Ja-un-am on the north, and Bulseong-sa on the
south. Seoul National University, Korea's top educational institution,
is sited on its northwest slope.
Map of Gwanak-san:
(one inch = 600 meters)
south (Gwacheon City)
|View of Seoul, looking north from Gwanak-san
|Two of Gwanak's other craggy peaks, Gittae-bong 깃대봉 and Am-bong 암봉.
|Looking south along the great valley that seperates Samseong-san from its partner
Gwanak. Together, they're among the most-hiked mountains in the entire Seoul area.
|Gwanak-san [Crown-Crags Mtn]
Outer-Southern Mountain of Seoul
the dry, firery, Red-Phoenix Guardian
The Bird-rock &
When surveys and plans for construction of Hanyang (한양, the previous name of Seoul) as the new
capital for the Joseon Dynasty, the Great Monk Muhak (무학대사, Master of Korean Geomancy) is said
to have at first advised Founding King Taejo (Yi Seonggye) that his palace should be built here at
Gwanak-san, facing north, in order to avoid the effects of its strong "Fire" energy-spirit (as a
notably dry and craggy mountain, at the south point of the new capital region; according to
Geomancy (Feung-shui, 풍수지리 ) it represents "the force of fire" among the Five Elements). If not,
Muhak warned, there would be terrible conflicts within Korea and also invasions from foreign
countries within a few centuries; the palace would surely burn.
The king was advised by the great Confucian scholar Jeong Do-jeon, however, that this effect
would not be a problem because the wide, wet and cold Han River would be blocking it. Yi
Taejo followed Jeong's advice, and built Gyeongbok-gung Palace (경복궁) in its current location,
Muhak's second choice was below Bugak-san and Inwang-san in Northern Hanyang, facing
south towards Gwanak-san. Starting exactly 200 years after construction was completed,
Korea suffered extremely bloody invasions from Japan and Manchuria, and Gyeongbok
Palace was burned to the ground, as Muhak had predicted.
Near the end of the Joseon Dynasty, Regent-Prince Heungseon Daewon-gun 흥선 대원군
rebuilt Gyeongbok Palace, and to avoid any repetition of this calamity he had two large
Haetae (해태, mythical dragonish lion-dogs) carved out of granite and set as guardians outside
the Gwanghwa-mun (front gate; they are still there), and also had a pond containing a dragon
made of copper created on the northern slope of Gwanak-san -- both of these measures
intending to block the 'fire spirit'. Gyeongbok has indeed never burned since then.
This information was taken from here and other sources.