Gyeongju (Kyongju) 경주
Things to see and do in Gyeongju
Gyeongju (Kyongju) can lay claim to be Korea's main historic city. Gyeongju was the capital of the Silla kingdom and was at its height from the 7th-9th century.
Bulguksa (Pulguksa) Temple, 16km south-east of the city center and easily accessed by bus is a must-see for its exquisite paintings, bridges, pagodas and carpentry.
In the mountains above Bulguksa Temple is the Seokguram Grotto which contains a huge 8th century stone statue of Buddha carved from granite and looking in the direction of the sea. There are shuttle buses up to the grotto from Bulguksa Temple and then a 400m walk.
The Bunhwang-sa stone pagoda dates from the 7th century and the remaining three storeys of the original nine are noted for their carved Buddhist guardians and lions.
Tumuli Park (Daereungwon), in the center of town, contains the burial mounds of 20 Shilla monarchs and is an evocative place to stroll.
The National Museum contains 80,000 artifacts many of which were excavated from the Shilla Period tumuli. At any one time 2500 pieces are on display. Outside is Asia's largest bell - the 3m-high, 25 ton Emile Bell.
Anapji Pond is the remains of a pleasure garden built by the Shilla King Munmu (who unified the Shilla, Koguryo, and Paekche kingdoms) in 674 as a pleasure garden.
The 12.7m high and 47m diameter Cheonmachong "Heavenly Horse" Tomb produced a wealth of riches when it was excavated including the beautiful gold Cheonmachong Crown.
The 7th century Chomsongdae near Tumuli Park is a fascinating stone observatory built from 365 stones (representing the days of the year), with twelve stones at its base (the months of the year). Court astrologers working at the observatory would report their findings to the monarchs who would act on their predictions.
There are trains to Busan, Andong, Seoul, Pohang and frequently Daegu from Gyeongju. There are buses from Gyeongju to Busan, Gangneung, Jinju, Daejeon, Andong, Seoul, Pohang, Daegu, Gwangju, Incheon and Sokcho.
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