A Garden Above the Streets of Seoul: Seoullo 7017

By Tran Trieu

Seoullo 7017 (서울로), Seoul's sky garden, used to be an old highway. It was built in the 1970s, and with its ideal location near Seoul Station, the overpass was supposed to help lessen the traffic congestion. Yet, it had to be closed due to safety issues, until architects and city planners repurposed the old overpass. But why this unique name? The name "Seoullo" means "towards Seoul" or "Seoul Street," and "70" refers to the year 1970, when the highways were first opened. "17" refers to the year 2017, when it was finished and reopened after it was closed for reconstruction in 2015. Repurposed, it serves to be an educational and entertaining area for tourists and residents.

Starting from Malli-Dong (만리동), passing over Seoul Station and ending at Namdaemun (남대문), it has many passageways connecting to it over a span of nearly 1km length. Also dubbed as Seoul's sky garden or skypark, it is an "educational arboretum and nursery for future species," decorated with 24,000 plants which include 228 species of trees, shrubs, and flowers that can be found inside and outside of Korea. It shows great diversity and is carefully chosen so that the plants can be seen "in action" at any time of the year. Mobile flower pots are added according to the seasons, whether it be numberless flowers, trees, and shrubs blooming in spring, fruits in summer or colorful leaves in autumn.

Seoullo offers many activities for its visitors. Want to learn more about the plants and the park itself? Information centers spread across the park will help you with that. Fancy a break after a long walk? Many of the passageways connect the park to cafés and nearby department stores. Hotels are easily accessible as well.

What about entertainment? Rosa Square and Magnolia Square are the perfect spots. Both have stages designed for concerts and performances. If you feel a little lost around the large park or want to see attractions near Seoullo, you can sign up for guided tours online. The park itself hosts a few stands ranging from food to clothing.

For food lovers, there are also food tours designed to show visitors restaurants in the districts near Seoullo. Stands all across the park sell locally handmade clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Thanks to the multiple passageways, visitors can easily visit nearby attractions, including a fantastic view of Sungnyemun Gate (숭례문), Seoul Square, or Seoul's old and new station. Sungnyemun Gate used to be part of the four biggest gates of the fortress walls surrounding the empire and is considered “Korea’s number one national treasure”.

Within walking distance from there is the Namdaemun Market, which is "the largest traditional market in Korea with over 10,000 retailers, vendors, and wholesalers". The old station, now named "Culture Station Seoul 248," has been repurposed and is now used as a museum. It hosts a lot of attractions and exhibitions as well as performances and events all year round. From Seoul Station, you can take the next subway to visit Myeongdong (명동) shopping street.

When visiting Seoul, you should definitely visit Seoullo 7017—the park is pretty at any daytime and is worth a visit if you want to have a relaxing, slow day. If you're spontaneous and don't quite know what you want to visit because there are so many possibilities: it's a great starting point, everything is within walking distance!

Find out more about events and tours on the Seoullo7017 website or plan your walking route here!

Written by Tran Trieu

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