Gyeongju Daily Tour
About World Heritage
Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple | Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories of the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks | Jongmyo Shrine | Cangdeokgung Palace Complex | Hwaseong Fortress | Gyeongju Historic Areas | Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites | Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes | Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty | Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong | Namhansanseong | Baekje Historic Areas
Seokguram Grotto [UNESCO World Heritage]
Seokguram, located on Tohamsan Mountain, is the representative stone temple of Korea. The official name of Seokguram, National Treasure No. 24, is Seokguram Seokgul. Designated as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995, it is an artificial stone temple made of granite. The construction was started by Kim Dae-Seong (700-774) in 751 during the reign of King Gyeong-Deok (742-765) of the Silla Kingdom (57 BC - AD 935) and it was finished twenty-four years later in 774, during the reign of King Hye-Gong (765-780).
Seokguram is known to have been built with Bulguksa Temple. According to the history book Samgukyusa of the Goryeo Dynasty (the country that unified the Korean peninsula at the end of the Silla Kingdom, 918-1392), Kim Dae-Seong had Bulguksa Temple built for his parents in his current life, and Seokguram Grotto for the parents of his former life.
Inside the round-shaped main hall are the Bonjon Statue, Bodhi-sattva and his disciples. The Bonjon figure wearing a generous smile is seated on the stage engraved with a lotus flower design. The rounded ceiling looks like a half-moon or a bow and has a lotus flower decorated cover on it. As the sunrise from this spot is quite beautiful, many people climb the mountain at daybreak.
Bulguksa Temple [UNESCO World Heritage]
Bulguksa Temple is the representative relic of Gyeongju and was designated as a World Cultural Asset by UNESCO in 1995. The beauty of the temple itself and the artistic touch of the stone relics are known throughout the world.
Bulguksa Temple was built in 528 during the Silla Kingdom, in the 15th year of King Beop-Heung's reign (514-540). The temple was originally called ‘Hwaeom Bulguksa Temple’ or ‘Beopryusa Temple’ and was rebuilt by Kim Dae-Seong (700-774), who started rebuilding the temple in 751 during the reign of King Gyeong-Deok (r. 742-765) and completed it in 774 during the reign of King Hye-Gong (r. 765-780). Upon completion, the temple’s name was changed to Bulguksa.
Bulguksa Temple underwent numerous renovations from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), but was burned down during the Imjin War (Japanese Invasions, 1592-1598).
Reconstruction started again in 1604 during the 37th year of King Seon-jo’s reign (Joseon Dynasty) and was renovated about 40 times until 1805 (during the reign of King Sun-Jo, 1790-1834). After this time, the temple suffered serious damage and was often the target of robbers.
In 1969, the Bulguksa Temple Restoration Committee was formed and in 1973, Mulseoljeon, Gwaneumjeon, Birojeon, Gyeongru, and Hoerang (all of which had previously been demolished) were rebuilt. Other old or broken sites (such as Daeungjeon, Geungnakjeon, Beomyeongnu and Jahamun) were repaired.
Even today, Bulguksa Temple is home to many important cultural relics such as Dabotap Pagoda (National Treasure No. 20), Seokgatap Pagoda (National Treasure No. 21), Yeonhwa-gyo & Chilbo-gyo Bridges (National Treasure No. 22), Cheongun-gyo & Baegun-gyo Bridges (National Treasure No. 23), Seokguram Grotto (National Treasure No. 24), the Golden Seated Vairocana Buddhist Figure (National Treasure No. 26), the Golden Seated Amita Figure (National Treasure No. 27), and Saritap Pagoda (Treasure No. 61).
Cheomseongdae is the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia.
Constructed during the reign of Queen Seon-deok (632-647), it was used for observing the stars in order to forecast the weather. This stone structure is a beautiful combination of straight lines and curves, and was designated as National Treasure No.31 on December 20th, 1962.
Cheomseongdae was built in a cylinder shape with stones 30cm in diameter. 362 stones were piled up to make 27 levels. Roughly 4.16m up from the bottom there is a 1㎡ square entrance and a space to hang a ladder under it.
The inside is filled with soil up to the 12th level, and the 19th, 20th, 25th, and 26th levels all have long rocks hanging on two areas, shaped as the Chinese letter '井' (jeong).
It stands 9.17m high and the base stone on each side measures 5.35m.
The Vernal Equinox, Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice and the 24 solar terms (also known as the astronomical solar year) were determined by the observation of stars. The pavilion stone is believed to have been used as a standard of deciding directions, north, south, east and west. The 362 stones used to build Cheomseongdae represented the 362 days in a lunar year.
Daereungwon Tomb Complex (Cheonmachong Tomb)
Large ancient tombs of kings and nobles of the Silla Kingdom can be seen around Gyeongju at the Daereungwon Tomb Complex (Cheonmachong Tomb). There are twenty-three large tombs located here; the most famous being Cheonmachong and Hwangnamdaechong.
In an excavation of the area in the 1970s, Cheonmachong was discovered with a painting of a mounted horse. This painting is the only discovered painting from the Silla era. You can also view the inside of Cheonmachong. There are 11,526 remains and royal crowns inside the tomb, demonstrating the lavish lifestyle of the king. Another tourist attraction is Hwangnamdaechong, the largest ancient tomb. It houses the bodies of both the king and queen and has over 30 thousand relics and gold accessories.
The unique thing about Hwangnamdaechong is that the queen's tomb has more luxurious accessories. Researchers have concluded that even the queen can have a high social position before marriage. You can feel the ancient culture of Korea 1,500 years ago when visiting these tombs.
Highlight of Tour Spot
Take a journey through the picturesque countryside of Korea to temple rich Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla dynasty and one of the ten historical cities in the world. You will take 3 hours journey on a high quality van across the picturesque countryside to Gyeongju, an ancient capital of the Silla dynasty (BC57-AD935), often dubbed as Museum without Walls. As leisurely make your way to Gyeongju, you will see Korea’s fertile farmland, glistening brooks, sheltered ginseng farms, apple plantations and lovely rice paddies that together forming a patchwork of colors and ever-changing textures of the rural Korean life. Today, you are treated to one of the world’s ten most historically significant sites with numerous relics from that era. Temple sites with weathered stone pagodas, royal tombs, Buddhist bas-reliefs, and fortress ruins are scattered throughout this ancient city.
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto
- See Anap Pond(Anapji) at a Silla palace in Gyeongju National Park