Gyeongju is a coastal city located on the southeastern tip of South Korea. Gyeongju is an important city in South Korea’s history, because it was once the capital of the ancient South Korea, the kingdom of Silla. The Silla Kingdom ruled 2/3 of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries. Because of this, there are many historical heritage sites and objects. Gyeongju is surrounded by mountains filled with temples which are still places of pilgrimage for Buddhists, as well as tourist attractions. If you are interested to visit this city, listed below are some of the tourist attractions there:
- Cheomseongdae Observatory
Cheomseongdae Observatory is the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in East Asia, dating back to the 7th century. It was built during the reign of Queen Seon-Deok. Some scholars believe the design was heavily influenced by Buddhism. The observatory represents the enormous importance of reading the stars in Korea’s history until now.
- Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple is one of the most beautiful temples in Korea. A small temple was built in 528. The current temple was constructed in 751, making it one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the world. The temple is one of South Korea’s 7 national treasures. In 1995, the temple was named by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
- Gyeongju National Museum
This museum has historical objects from the Silla Kingdom. The museum was originally founded in 1945 as part of the National Museum of Korea, but in 1975, the museum changed its name to Gyeongju National Museum.
This is a Buddhist grotto that is part of the Bulguksa Temple complex. The main rotunda has a granite statue of Buddha. It is 3.5 meters tall and sits on a lotus pedestal. The identity of the Buddha is still debated, but it probably represents the Seokgamoni Buddha, the historic Buddha at the moment of enlightenment.
- Shilla Millennium Park
Shilla Millennium Park is the first historical park in South Korea. It is located near Bomun Lake and Toktong Lake. It has ancient, restored homes from the Silla Kingdom. There are a variety of cultural workshops including wood sculpture, metal arts & crafts, terra-cotta, and puppetry. The park also holds historical performances.