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Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen

Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen
The Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites are groups of megalithic funerary and ritual monuments. A dolmen is a kind of tomb, or prehistoric cemetery. They can be found all over the world, but Korea is said to have 40% of the world's total on its grounds. The numerous ones included here were constructed around the 1st millennium BC.

The dolmens in Ganghwa are the earliest ones, of the northern, table-shaped type. They include the biggest stone of this kind in South-Korea, measuring 2.6 x 7.1 x 5.5 meters.

Visit September 2001

Of these Korean dolmen sites, I only visited the big one at Ganghwa Island (near Seoul). No entrance fee there, though the dolmen is placed in a little park and there is the ubiquitous soft drink vending machine.

To simply get there, and to enjoy the Ganghwa landscape was the most interesting part of my visit. The dolmen itself is "just" 3 stones put on top of each other. I have seen those before in Holland. But I have good memories of visiting this site, because it was the 7th and last worldheritage I saw on my trip to Korea. As this one is quite out of the way and was not included in my original travel plans, I am glad that I was able to visit it after all.


Thibault Magnien (France):
The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites are locations for hundreds of dolmens used as graves and for ritual ceremonies. Most of these megalithic structures are dating from the period of the first millennium BCE. According to specialists, Korea contains more than 40% of the world's dolmen.
The site located on Gangwha Island is the easier most convenient one to visit from Seoul. From the Sinchon bus Terminal, take a bus to get to Gangwha Island bus terminal in one and a half hour and from there, take another bus to move on the island. However, the dolmen are scattered throughout the island and it is difficult to see most of them and to have a general view.
A notable dolmen on Ganghwa Island's site is a kind of table-type dolmen where it was believed ancestral rites were performed. This dolmen is thought to be the biggest in Korea.
Date posted: April 2012
Ian Cade (England):
The main thing that struck me was how delicate this structure looked despite the massive size of its capstone, it was perched like a delicate Brancusi sulpture. Ganghwa island is littered with megaliths and if you really were keen this would be a good place to go exploring, apparently it is one of the densest concentrations in the world. As for me, I was here just to see the big one, which is now in a well-manicured park which does contain another standing stone (also part of the WHS).
My visit was a little brief as the weather wasn’t so nice, but the warm welcome and free cup of coffee from the friendly information centre kept me going. There is also a pretty new local history museum next door, but it was closed on the day I visited (Monday). There are regular buses from Ganghwa bus station; just asking for ‘Goindol’ got me on the right bus.
I wouldn’t say this would be most people’s highlight of Korea, but it was a nice place to head to on a quiet, slow and slightly gloomy day, it helped me recharge my batteries to gear me up for the delights of Seoul.
[Site 3: Experience 4]
Date posted: November 2011
John Booth (New Zealand):
I have now visited all three WHS listed dolmen sites in Korea and consider the Gochang site to be the most interesting. There I saw a whole mountainside dotted with 128 dolmen of several different styles. Altogether there are around 2000 dolmen on this district. The visitor centre at the dolmen site is served by a bus from Gochang town, which in turn has bus connections with Jongeup and Janseong, both stations on the Mokpo railway line.
The Hwasun dolmen I reached from Neungju railway station, and the Ganghwa site by bus from the Sincheon bus station in Seoul.
Date posted: May 2010
Kyle Magnuson (United States of America):
These pre-historic dolmens site are just as fascinating as some of those found in the UK. Not as spectacular as Stonehenge or some of the other stone circles in the UK, but altogether impressive if at the very least by the sheer number of them. The largest dolmen is located on Ganghwa Island, which is only about an hour or so from Seoul. Some of the best preserved and largest clusters are found in Gochang in the Southwest. There are three different styles of dolmens. The major dolmen at Gangwha is by far the most impressive. However, the other dolmens on the island are not particularly large or unique. (side note* as of 2008 the largest Ganghwa dolmen has a very tacky tourist surrounding with replicas of stonehenge and other dolmens around the world) Gochang has the largest concentration of dolmens perhaps anywhere in the world. Most Gochang dolmens are table-top style and are found spread out over a broad hill. Many look like boulders, but on closer inspection you can they are placed on two or four small rocks. There is an excellent new museum at the Gochang site just completed in 2010. I visited some of the Ganghwa dolmen sites in 2008 and I visited the major Gochang dolmen cluster in 2011. I was most awed by the Ganghwa dolmen, but as far as visitor experience Gochang holds the greatest value.
Date posted: April 2010
Boj (Philippines):
I visited the dolmen site in Ganghwa Island in Jan. 1, 2010. It is an ideal day trip for those based in Seoul. The earliest bus from Sinchon station is at 5:40 a.m. and the trip will take about an hour and a half.

There are many things to see in Ganghwa. Apart from the dolmen sites, I also visited fortresses (overlooking the sea) and a palace. Be sure to check the bus schedule as they are quite few. It was cold when I went and waiting for buses going back to the terminal or to other locations in the island took at least 30 mins each time.
Date posted: January 2010
Prof. K.P.RAO (INDIA):
It was really a wonderful experience visiting the Hwasun megaliths in December, 2007. As a person studied widely, the megaliths from India, I find the Hwasun megalithis really amazing. They are huge and impressive. I feel we need to make a comparative study of the Korean and Indian megaliths. In india also we have cup-marks on megaliths. I am happy that the site is well protected and maintained.
Date posted: February 2009
Jacob Choi (United States of America):
First of all the Ganghwa dolmen are spread all across on a mountain park and you have to go through a steep climb to get there and to reach the park you need to go through a small village through the island but it was an incredible world heritage site.

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Site info

Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites
Country: Republic of Korea
Inscribed: 2000
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (3)
Category: Secular structure, Burial

Site history:
2000 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea

In the news:
Not available

Related links:
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Related Forum posts:
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Getting there

This WHS has 3 location(s).


Tombs .
Bronze Age .
Human Activity
Festivals . Stone Quarries .
Individual People
Homer B. Hulbert .
Religion and Belief
Legends and Folk Myths .
Built in the 7th century BC .
Free entrance . Recently discovered .
WHS Hotspots
Busan hotspot . Seoul hotspot .
WHS on Other Lists
World Biosphere Reserves .
World Heritage Process
Inscribed on a single criterion only .

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