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Downtown where everything's waiting

Bongraesan Mountain sits just outside Yeongdo's quickly expanding center, secluded from the town's bright lights. (Source: Michael Kazemi)

 Next up in our series are two unique observatories in the "old downtown," composed of Jung-gu (district), Yeongdo-gu, Dong-gu and Seo-gu. The development of the port in 1876 brought the community into the modern era. In 1936, City Hall was located in this area, making it the city's central hub. In the late 1990s, city hall moved to Yeonsan-dong (neighborhood) and Seomyeon emerged as the new center. Then, as 2010 approached, the original epicenter began drawing attention as a tourist destination, emitting a strong sense of nostalgia. We've gathered the best gazing spots in the area. 

▲ The sculpture stands almost two meters tall. (Source: Michael Kazemi)

▲ Old downtown, where all the lights are bright, at night. (Source: Michael Kazemi)

  Yeongju Sky Eye Observatory 

 The simplistically beautiful Yeongju Sky Eye Observatory has only two benches, two binoculars and the "Sky Eye Overlooking Busan," sculpture. This minimalistic set-up sits in juxtaposition to the majestic view. Built in 2016, as part of the "Mountainside Road Stroll Project," it boasts a complete picture of Busan-hangdaegyo Bridge. Even though it is kilometers away, its curved presence among the huge ships and cranes in developing North Port is an impressive symbol of Busan Port redevelopment. 

 Among the old buildings lining the coast sits an architecturally unique and grand structure, the Commodore Hotel. The 30-meter-tall lan-dmark, opened in 1979, is reminiscent of a Joseon Dynasty palace a must-see spot in old downtown. 

◎ Address: 91-7, Yeongju-dong, Jung-gu

◎ Hours: 24/7

◎ How to get there: Busan Station (metro line 1), exit 3. Take bus 43 and get off at Jungang Park and Democracy Park stop

▲ Beyond Kangkangee Village, Namhangdaegyo Bridge glows. (Source: Michael Kazemi)

  ■ Jagalchi Market Observatory

 Located on the roof of a seven-story building and adjacent to the Namhang Pier, the Jagalchi Market building is resembles a flying seagull. On the first floor, there is a market full of diverse fresh seafood and a waterfront plaza with a striking view. Those who want to eat sashimi (slices raw fish) or buy dried seafood can visit the second floor. Karaoke rooms, Korean restaurants and the Busan Youth Center are located on the third and fourth floors. On the seventh floor is a set of stairs leading to the observatory. 

 Upon reaching the top, you are greeted with the sail-shaped roof and countless places to rest and absorb the atmosphere. In stark contrast to the bustling scenery below lies a simple space decorated with two binoculars, a few benches, a swing and a yellow heart, indicating a place visitors can send a special postcard. As the day progresses, the transition from twilight to midnight reflected on the ocean water alongside the village, mesmerizes onlookers. 

 At first glance, you can see "Kangkangee Village." From the 1970s to the 1980s, shipbuilding flourished and the village was sought-out for many company's ship-repair needs. There was even a saying in that town, "No ship cannot be repaired." With the established reputation of a multi-functional locale, it was dubbed "Kangkangee" from the sound of hammering.

 Visitors, looking down from the observation deck, may be able to glimpse workers striving to service these vessels and the glittering Namhangdaegyo Bridge in the distance. From the right side, Yeongdodaegyo Bridge and Busandaegyo Bridge can be seen lighting up the sky. While simultaneously, compact searchlights on old fishing boats busily move across the darkened waters adding to the nostalgic scenery.

◎ Address: 52, Jagalchihaean-ro, Jung-gu 

◎ Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day

◎ How to get there: Jagalchi Station (metro line 1), exit 10. Walk to Jagalchi Market Building.