Jungangtap Park (Central Tower Park; 중앙탑공원; map) rests along the South Han River, 7 kilometers north of downtown Chungju City (충주시; map). It claims a 1,300-year-old tower and a wealth of other amenities.
Let’s take the tour!
In the center of Jungangtap Park sits the tallest Silla-era tower in Korea: the Seven-story Stone Pagoda in Tappyeong-ri or Jungang Tower (Jungangtap; 중앙탑; road view).
Jungangtap (중앙탑) literally translates to “Central Tower.” Why?
Silla (신라; 57 BCE ~ 935 CE) was the first kingdom to unify the Korean peninsula in 668. Almost a hundred years later, King Wonseong (730 ~ 798; 원성왕) wanted to mark the center Silla’s territory.
Legend says, the king asked two surveyors to venture to Silla’s northern and southern borders, then walk towards one another at equal pace. At the site where they met, King Wonseong erected the 14.5-meter tall, granite Jungang Tower or “Central Tower.”
The true center of the Korean peninsula lies in Yanggu County, Gangwon Province (map), roughly 67-kilometers northwest of Jungang Tower. But consider the total north/south length of the Korean peninsula: 1,100 kilometers. Silla surveyors were only 6% off.
Jungang Tower sits in the middle of an expansive lawn. Walking paths, fountains, and benches surround it along the banks of the South Han River.
But Jungangtap Park features more than a millennium-old tower.
- An outdoor sculpture park, the first in North Chungcheong Province, features 26 works by Korean artists on the lawns and river bank in Jungangtap Park.
- Rainbow Bridge (무지개다리; map) is a pontoon bridge that floats just off the edge of Jungangtap Park. LEDs lights bathe the bridge with rainbow hues at night.
- Chungju Museum 1 (충주박물관; map; road view) and Chungju Museum 2 (충주박물관2관; map; road view) sit side-by-side across from Jungang Tower. Museum 1 features Buddist and folk art. Museum 2 explores Chungju City during its prehistory, Three Kingdoms, Goryeo, and Joseon periods.
- Liquorium (리쿼리움; map) hugs the north edge of Jungangtap Park. It is a museum dedicated to Asian spirits, like soju and Korean beer.
Tangeum Lake International Rowing Regatta
Tangeum Lake International Rowing Regatta (탄금호 국제조정경기장; map) is a rowing stadium perched the riverbank 500-meters north of Jungangtap Park.
Locals call this wide section of the South Han River beside Jungangtap Park Tangeum Lake (탄금호; map).
Tangeum Regatta trains professional rowers and is one of a few in Korea certified to hold international rowing competitions. The facility also runs the Chungju Rowing Experience School (충주조정체험아카데미), which offers rowing lessons to everyday folks.