Gyeongju was the capital of the Silla Kingdom
for a thousand years, and the valley in which it is situated has a great
concentration of historic buildings, temples, and artifacts.
Dumulli Park (Tel: 054-772-6317), a collection of royal Silla tombs from the
Pre-Unification Era, is in the middle of Gyeongju. The park contains 20 of
the more than 200 royal tombs to be found in Gyeongju. The
Cheonmachong(Flying Horse Tomb) was excavated in 1974 and yielded more
than 10,000 treasures. These treasures, including a golden crown and
girdle, are in the Gyeongju
National Museum. The tomb itself is
open for viewing, providing visitors with an opportunity to see how the
huge tombs were constructed and
how the various items were arranged in them. Visitors to this area should
be sure to take the time for a peaceful stroll in this serene
Cheomseongdae Observatory (Tel: 054-772-5134), the world's earliest known existing
observatory, is a 7th century bottleshaped stone structure admired by
archeologists worldwide. The square window facing south in the middle of
the structure is believed to have served as on entrance, and was probably
reached by a ladder.
Located ten minutes' walk from
Cheomseongdae is Anapji Pond
(Tel: 054-772-4041), where the Silla
royal family relaxed and enjoyed themselves. The pond was temporarily
drained in 1974 to reveal a veritable treasure trove of the Silla's
artifacts which are now on display in the Gyeongju National
National Museum (Tel: 054-772-5193), a place of compelling interest,
preserves much of the Silla heritage, including magnificent gold crowns,
pottery, Buddhist artifacts, and stone sculptures. The museum also houses
the Divine Bell of King Seongdeok the Great, also referred to as the
legendary Emille Bell, one of Asia's largest and most resonant bells-25
tons of bronze standing 11 feet high.
The site of Bunhwangsa
Temple (Tel: 054-742-9922) is located twenty minutes' walk from
Gyeongju National Museum. Only its 3-story stone brick pagoda is still
standing, which was originally nine stories high.
South of Gyeongju National Museum is
Poseokjeong Water Course
(Tel: 054-745-8484) where a Silla king
used to hold poetry-reciting and drinking parties. He would float the wine
cups to his statesmen seated around the watercourse made in the shape of
an abalone shell.
Temple (Tel: 054-746-9913), on the southern outskirts of
Gyeongju, is one of Korea's best known temples, a monument to both the
skill of Silla architects and the depth of Buddhist faith at the time.
While most of the wooden buildings have been rebuilt over the centuries,
all the stone bridges, stairways and pagodas are original. The temple,
originally built in A.D. 535, was enlarged in A.D.751. Today the temple's
form is as beautiful and charming as ever.
Dating back to the
same era, Seokguram
Grotto (Tel: 054-746-9933) is one of
Asia's finest Buddha shrines. Surrounded by Bodhisattvas and guardian
deities, the serene central statue of Buddha gazes out over the forested
hills and across the East Sea to the horizon. The building of the granite
dome of Seokguram was a truly amazing architectural feat.
East of Gyeongju is Bomun
Lake Resort , opened in 1978 by the Korea National Tourism
Organization. This major tourist complex has five super deluxe hotels, a
convention center, a casino, extensive shopping and dining facilities, a
golf course, tennis courts, pleasure boats, swimming pools and even a
hotel school. Shuttle bus and taxi service connect downtown Gyeongju with
the resort area.
Other attractions are scattered around the edges of Gyeongju: tombs of kings and generals, many decorated with many zodiac figures or interesting steles, former palaces, ponds and pleasure pavilions of the Silla royalty, and Buddhist images.