Cheonggyecheon stream! Serene, so romantic, so beautiful. It's one of Seoul's most favorite spots that both tourists and locals enjoy and can be found to clear their minds and have a break from the busy & noisy streets.
A walk along the 5.8km (3.6 mile) feels quieter as the stream is almost like a dugout. The stream is more than 4.6 meters (15 ft.), lower than street level.
The Cheonggyecheon Stream starts at Cheonggyecheon Plaza in Sejong-ro, just steps away from City Hall & Gwanghwamun Square. It passes under 22 beautiful bridges until it ends and flows into the Hangang River.
Along the course of the stream, Cheonggyecheon passes among other famed sights including the Deoksugung Palace, Seoul Plaza, Insa-Dong, Changdeokgung Palace, and Changgyeonggung Palace, and for tourists a walk along the stream becomes easily accessible.
At night, the Cheonggyecheon Stream lights up (5pm - 11pm) and the "Candlelight Fountain" glows with multi-colored illuminations.
By Pyounghwa Clothing Market is the Gosa Fountain:
The Stream is also the host of the Seoul Lantern Festival, which runs from Nov 7th - 23rd.
I and many visitors, particularly enjoy this natural haven during the night. Cheonggyecheon becomes a spot for rest and peace after a maybe hectic or stressful day. You'll find live music, and find others relaxing, socializing and walking slower.
The stream has had a long journey to what it has become today and to trace it back you'll find it has had an incredible history. Back in the Joseon Dynasty, the stream was a polluted waterway to carry sewage, and was called "gaechon," which means "digging out." When this was changed due to the stream unable to support the increasing population of Seoul, the name was also changed to Cheonggyecheon, which means "Clear Water Stream."
With the Korean war in the 1950's, the Japanese occupation had many plans for the stream but it was left neglected due to funding being poured into the Sino-Japanese war. The stream became the home for refugees of the war. By the mid-1950s, the stream was a symbol of poverty.
It's funny to think that when Cheonggyecheon Stream was covered up in the 1970s with a road and an elevated freeway above it, that then it was considered a symbol of progress.
By the year 2000, the area became one of the most noisy and congested parts of Seoul as wells as a shabby industrial neighborhood filled with flea markets. The area needed revitalizing and when president Lee Myung-Bak was elected, he promised to remove the freeway and restore the Cheonggyecheon River.
The stream's restoration was completed in 2005, with huge succes. The project's success led to Lee-Myung Bak's election as President of South Korea and was the greatest gift he gave to the residents of Seoul, to show and implement an effort to improve quality of life.