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Seoul Searching: Take a Pilgrimage along the “Santiago of Seoul”

Go on a pilgrimage around Bukchon, Myeong-dong, and the Han River
Paths seeped in the sacrifice of those who gave up their lives for their faith


Traveling courses that give tourists a new way to look around some of Seoul's main tourist attractions, such as Bukchon, Myeong-dong, and the Han River vicinity, have popped up. These new courses are a part of the “Seoul Pilgrimage Routes.” Inspired by the Camino de Santiago in Spain as a benchmark - a route that's visited by more than 100,000 people every year - the pilgrimage routes are also referred to as the “Santiago of Seoul.”

The Camino de Santiago is a long and difficult 700km route that is visited by countless pilgrims from all over the world. The Seoul Pilgrimage Routes, on the other hand, can be completed by anyone within 2-3 hours (3-4.5km). For this reason, the routes can be even be attempted by travelers who are new to walking tours. Visitors to the three pilgrimage routes - Bukchon, Seosomun, and Hangang (Han River) - can learn about the history of Catholicism in Korea while experiencing the charm of Seoul.

One of the tourist attractions that is included in the Bukchon Pilgrimage Route is the Site of Gwanghwamun Beatification (a ceremony held by the Catholic Church to honor martyrs or those who led virtuous lives) - a site where Pope Francis held a rare mass beatification ceremony. Another attraction is the Unhyeongung Palace, which was the private residence of Heungseon Daewongun, a regent of Korea who oppressed Catholics during the Byeongin Persecution. The Bukchon Pilgrimage Route also allows visitors to experience traditional Korean culture in Insa-dong and at the Bukchon Hanok Village.

The Seosomun Pilgrimage Route takes visitors to the Myeongdong Cathedral, perhaps the most well-known symbol of Catholicism in Korea, and to Seosomun Historical Park and Catholic Martyrs' Shrine, where numerous early Korean Catholics were martyred. Visitors can also learn about modern Korean history by looking around Jeongdong-gil, which is where foreign legations were located in the late 19th century.

The Hangang Pilgrimage Route includes attractions that face the Han River, such as the Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine and the Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery. The route also takes you to a specialized section where a newly built dust path, forest path, and flower path can be walked upon. The Hangang Pilgrimage Route also includes a trip to Mapo Food Street, which is a great location to try a variety of Korean cuisine.

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