Gyeongju’s traditional villages
(KPL) Over 60,000 tourists visited Gyeongsangbuk-do province, South Korea during the autumn and winter of 2018.
Out of the 60,000 tourists, 12,000 people visited Yeoungju. Most of the tourists are from China, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and other Asian and European countries.
Yeongju is a small city to the North of Andong. It is surrounded by Sobaeksan National Park and other rural attractions.
The city maintains a traditional atmosphere while being friendly in nature.
Most tourists like to visit Gyeongju in autumn which falls between “September, October and November” and winter, from January and March.
Yeongju is located in the far north region of North Gyeongsang province in South Korea, covering 668.84 km2 with a population of 113,930 people, according to the South Korea’s 2008 census.
The city borders Bonghwa county to the east, Danyang county of North Chungcheong province to the west, Andong City and Yecheon county to the south, and Yeongwol county of Gangwon province to the north.
Buseoksa Temple in Yeongju is outstanding as a representative temple of the Avatamsaka Sect of Silla Buddhism.
Sosu Seowon is the first Seowon (Confucian academy) to have had national financial support by way of tax exemptions.
Yeongju is also home to a large Novelis Aluminum plant, employing approximately 1,000 workers. This plant provides flat-rolled aluminum sheet products to customers throughout Asia.
Gyeongju (Kyongju), formerly known as Sorabol or Saro, was the capital of the Silla kingdom of ancient Korea from the 1st century BCE to the 10th century CE.
Located in the south-east of the Korean peninsula, at its peak in the 9th century CE Gyeongju boasted 1 million inhabitants and 180,000 homes.
The city today still has significant archaeological remains including the Cheomseongdae Observatory, Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram Grotto, pagodas, and many huge earth-mound royal tombs within which spectacular gold crowns and jewellery pieces have been excavated, fully justifying the capital’s other name of Kumsong or ‘City of Gold.
One of the most famous surviving ancient structures at Gyeongju is the mid-7th-century CE Cheomseongdae Observatory. It was built during the reign of Queen Seondeok as part of a larger complex dedicated to science and astronomy in the city.
Nine metres tall and incorporating 365 granite blocks in 27 layers, it acted like a sundial but also has a south-facing window which captures the sun’s rays on the interior floor on each equinox.
Originally there may also have been an armillary sphere (model of celestial bodies) on top of the tower. It is the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia and is listed as no. 31 on the official list of National Treasures of R. Korea.
The Bulguksa Temple (aka Pulguk-sa Temple or ‘Temple of the Buddha Land’) was built in the 8th century CE on the wooded slopes of Mt. Tohamsan. The chief architect of Bulguksa is traditionally credited as Kim Dae-seong (700-774 CE), the Chief Minister or chungsi of the Unified Silla kingdom. As its name suggests it was designed to represent the land of Buddha, that is paradise.
The temple complex, which includes a lotus lake and several bridges besides its three main halls, was so large and built with such precise mathematical and geometrical considerations that it took almost 40 years to complete, beginning with the traditional start date of 751 CE and finishing in 790 CE.
Although the original wooden buildings of Bulguksa are replacements for those originals destroyed by fire, the complex does have two original stone pagodas – the Dabotap (Tabo-tap or ‘Pagoda of Many Treasures’) and Seokgatap (Sokka-tao or ‘Pagoda that Casts No Shadow’) – which both traditionally date to 751 CE. Excavation around the latter pagoda in 1966 CE brought to light a sarira (reliquary casket) containing the world’s oldest woodblock-printed document, a copy of the Dharani sutra.
Anapji Royal Pond
Anapji means “Goose and Duck Lake.”It was originally constructed in February 674 during the reign of Munmu, the 30th king of Silla. Munmu’s family was blessed with success. His father, King Muyeol, unified the Korean peninsula in 668, engineering the defeat of the Baekje and Goguryeo kingdoms which fell in 660 and 668, respectively.
Today’s Anapji is a mere echo of its original form, with little of the vegetation and none of the original architecture. During Munmu’s time Anapji served as a resort garden teeming with rare plants and animals.
To impress Tang dynasty Chinese envoys, miniaturizations of the twelve famous peaks of China’s Wushan mountain were terraced around the lake. Here, envoys could relax in an atmosphere inspired by the scenery of their homeland.
Though pleasant and relaxing, Anapji served often as a center of Silla diplomacy. The pavilion of Imhaejeon seated over one-thousand people, and is probably the place where the surrender of Silla to Goryeo took place in 935.
All of the pavilions have vanished over the years, but some of the original foundation stones are still visible by the lakeside. As part of the comprehensive Gyeongju valley archaeological study, the Korean government temporarily drained Anapji pond in 1972, revealing thousands of Silla artefacts that had fallen into the lake or were thrown in. Many of these were restored and relocated to the Gyeongju National Museum.
Anapji Royal Pond