Olympic Park (올림픽공원; map) is Seoul’s second largest park, covering 1.4-million-square meters, equal to 270 football fields or 203 soccer pitches.
It contains more than walking paths and benches. Like the Jamsil Sports Complex down the way, it held venues for Seoul’s 1988 Summer Olympics.
Because Olympic Park covers such a massive plot, designers clustered its key features into west, middle, and east regions (map).
- A sports park with Olympic facilities in the east.
- A culture park in the west.
- An eco and history park in the center.
East Olympic Park
In the park’s eastern regions, Seoul constructed six Olympic venues. Half the buildings remain sports-focused. The city converted the others into music and performance spaces.
- KSPO DOME (올림픽체조경기장; map; 14,594 seats) was the Olympics’ main gymnastics facility. Now it holds a variety of events, including UFC matches, Esports events, and music concerts.
- Olympic Swimming Pool (올림픽수영장; map; 10,000 seats) holds a swimming pool and is open to the public.
- Olympic Velodrome (올림픽공원올팍축구장; map; 6,000 seats) hosted Olympic cycling events. It’s now an open-air soccer stadium.
- Olympic Tennis Courts (올림픽공원테니스경기장; map; 9,931 seats) includes a main court, thirteen outdoor courts, and four indoor courts.
- Olympic Handball Gymnasium (SK올림픽핸드볼경기장; map; 5,003 seats) was the Olympic fencing venue. Now it hosts handball competitions.
- Woori Financial Art Hall (우리금융아트홀; map; 1,184 seats) held the Olympics’ weightlifting arena. Woori Bank transformed the space into a performance hall.
West Olympic Park
Arts and culture facilities fill the western regions of Olympic Park. Find history and art museums, and an outdoor sculpture park.
- World Peace Gate (세계평화의문; map) is the Olympic Park’s crowning architectural monument. Designed by a Korean artist, the sculpture’s four pillars ascend 24-meter and prop up two huge wings. Murals depict phoenix, turtle, tiger, and dragon spirit animals.
- SOMA Museum of Art (소마미술관; map) features an indoor exhibition facility and the world’s most extensive outdoor sculpture parks. Half of the 200 sculptures stand near SOMA. The remaining sculptures scatter around other parts of Olympic Park.
- Seoul Olympic Museum (서울올림픽기념관; map) preserves artifacts and teaches visitors about the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Central Olympic Park
Olympic Park’s middle section revolves around Mongchon Lake (몽촌호; map) and Mongchon Fortress (몽촌토성; map).
What fortress? All I see is expansive lawns, flower gardens, and walking paths with Sunday strollers.
Walk down to the lake’s edge. Notice a gently rising hill. Underneath rests the remains of Mongchon Fortress.
Kingdom of Baekje (백제; 18 BCE ~ 660 CE), of of Korea’s founding Kingdoms, built this 2.7-kilometer round military installation to protect Wiryeseong (위례성), their capital.
Before the Olympics, archeologists excavated artifacts from Mongchon and preserved them in a pair of nearby museums:
- Seoul Baekje Museum (한성백제박물관; map) shows historical Baekje Kingdom (18 BCE ~ 660 CE) artifacts found during Olympic Park’s construction. Other exhibits take visitors on a tour of Seoul’s prehistory.
- Mongchon Museum of History (몽촌역사관; map) focuses on the ancient Baekje Kingdom, whose capital occupied the land where Seoul stands today. It displays models of the Mongchon and nearby Pungnapto Fortresses.
- Seoul History Compilation Center (서울역사편찬원; map) is a Seoul government office responsible for researching and recording historic data and artifacts.