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  • Alex Gillam

Gyeongju, a Portal to Ancient Korea

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

A city filled with cultural relics, Gyeongju dates back to the 1st century BC, when the collapse of Goguryeo and Baekje gave rise to the first unified Korea under the reign of the Silla (57 B.C. - A.D. 935) kings. The incredible, nearly 1000 year reign of the Silla Kingdom makes today's Gyeongju a tourist's dream; this picturesque city allows tourists to experience a slice of Korea’s natural splendor as well as the exquisite architecture and treasured relics from a wholly unique period of history.

With more temples, pagodas, tombs, and palaces than any other city in Korea, few places are as packed to the brim with history as Gyeongju; some of the city’s highlights include:

  • The Daereungwon Tomb Complex, a picturesque complex of 23 tombs built inside large, rolling mounds. Each tomb holds thousands of ancient relics offering invaluable insight into life during the Silla Dynasty.

  • The Cheomseong Observatory, the oldest astronomical observatory in the East. For over two thousand years, Korean astronomers studied and charted the movements of stars and planets from the comfort of this stone enclave. Court astrologers reported and interpreted their findings to the King who would then act according to their predictions. The stars dictated all aspects of policy making: agricultural developments, celebrations, wars, and other events and festivals. Astrology also shaped people's views of life and the universe - Koreans still tend to believe that the exact time of birth for each person is closely governed by the heavens.

  • Bulguk-sa Temple, a stunning 6th Century example of Shilla Dynasty architecture. Literally meaning Buddha Land, Bulguk-sa is set among the foothills of Toham Mountain, offering gorgeous views of fertile plains and the mythical mountain Namsan. Placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995, the temple compound houses a number of national treasures that are worth the visit alone.

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