Now I finally know why people always rave about Ewha Womans University in Seoul! This is not only one of the most prestigious universities in Korea, it’s also the largest female education institution in the world. But that’s not the reason why it attracts so many tourists or rather millenniums. Yes, you’ve guessed right, it’s a highly Instagrammable location.
Before we go there, let me show you the inside of the Ewha Womans University subway station first. It’s a very feminine station to complement the female university. I suck when taking photos and always blink in at least 3 out of 4 photos. This was the nth take before I could get a half decent picture.
The walk to Ewha Womans University
As we came out of the station, there’s a busy street going a little downhill. That leads directly to the University. You’ll know you’re on the right street when you see lots of cafes, and cosmetic shops on both sides. This is the main shopping area, but the real deals can be found on the back streets on the left hand side as you walk towards the university. I picked up so many great bargains there.
It’s only a few minutes walk from the station to the Ewha Womans University’s main entrance. Of course, it took me much longer, that’s what happens when you window shop! The end of the street stops in front of the university by the main gate. You’ll see the university name on the right hand side, and a massive wall with cherry blossom sculptures on the opposite side. I didn’t see any gates here, just a few roadblocks to mark the demarcation. Maybe the gates were pushed aside and I was too excited with the sight of the building ahead of me that I didn’t notice them.
The building that caught my eye was the Welch-Ryang Auditorium.
Ewha Womans University became a university in 1945 but its life started much earlier in 1886. They moved to its current campus in 1935 and gradually expanded, both in terms of the physical building and student numbers. There are a few landmark buildings on the campus, the first being the Welch-Ryang Auditorium which every visitor sees when they enter the main gates. This is the building on the left below. The auditorium sits 2800, and when it was built in 1958, it was the largest concert hall in Asia. Its westernized church like exterior is totally different from the scene walking towards Ewha. It almost felt like walking into a different world as soon as I walked past the main gates.
Ewha Campus Complex ECC
The real reason why people flock to the university is something else. If you turn right at the Welch-Ryang Auditorium this is what you see – the Ewha Campus Complex. The campus is built on a hill and at the foot of the hill is the main university complex. There are two long buildings on either side with a glass pane front. Inside the buildings, there are lecture rooms, shops, cafes, and a whole range of other student facilities. When you look in between the buildings on either side, the view is quite spectacular.
The walkway slopes gently downhill. As you walk towards the other end you can feel the coldness from the glass panes on either side, yet the sun is shining above your head. Am I indoors or outdoors? There’s a flight of stairs at the end that takes you back up the hill again. From here you look back and get another view of the complex, including the environmentally friendly rooftop park.
Pfeiffer Hall and other gems
Pfeiffer Hall is across the road at the top of the stairs. This gothic-style stone building was the first building on the campus when the university moved here in 1935. All the students used to take their lessons inside the lecture halls here in the early days, but nowadays it is used as an administrative building. It’s quite difficult to get a good photograph of Pfeiffer Hall as the road between it and the top of the staircase is pretty narrow.
I think most people stop at the ECC and don’t bother walking further up, which is quite a pity really because there are some little gems dotted around. There were some nods to the history and origins of Ewha such as the Archives building. This was built in 2006 on the 120th anniversary of Ewha and is a replica of the very first building at its original location.
Ah-Ryoung-Dang is a traditional Korean hanok style building and one of the handful on the campus. This is a rebuild from 1986 as the original one that was built in 1936 was burnt down during the Korea war. I would have loved to go in a take a closer look and learn more about Korean architecture.
This is the Law Building. The building itself isn’t that spectacular. I was more impressed that it was built quite high up the hill on a steep road. By the time I walked from the ECC to here, my legs were aching so much. I really wonder how the students do it every day. Hat’s off to their dedication!
From the Law Building, I walked back down the hill pass the Ewha Centennial Library. If you’re a law student walking over to the library, it’s a gentle walk, but if you’re coming up from the ECC, it’s quite a steep walk!
A western feel campus
It was very pleasant to walk around the campus, especially on a Sunday. Not surprisingly, there weren’t that many people beyond the ECC. Seems like everyone just comes to Ewha for the Instagram photo and then leave. What they don’t realise is that many parts of the campus have many quaint western-style buildings almost as if you’re walking around in Europe somewhere. I didn’t take many photos but have some video footage which I will edit and share later on.
Before I left, I wandered back to the ECC for a few more photo shoots. Not quite Instagram quality but good enough for my private album ^_^