• Gyeongju

    Sinseonsa Temple – 신선사 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Sinseonsa Temple, which means “Spirit Immortal Temple,” in English, is located on Mt. Danseoksan (827m). Mt. Danseoksan, which means “Cut Rock Mountain,” in English, is the tallest mountain in Gyeongju. Mt. Danseoksan is away from the downtown core in the northwest part of Gyeongju. The name of the mountain was originally Mt. Jungaksan during part of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.). However, the mountain came to be known as Mt. Danseoksan when Kim Yushin (595-673 A.D.), at the age of fifteen in 610 A.D., became a hwarang (an elite group of Silla warrior group). Kim Yushin entered the mountain with the hope of unifying…

  • Gyeongju

    Bucheobawi/Okryongam Hermitage – 부처바위/옥룡암 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Of the two, Bucheobawi and Okryongam Hermitage, it’s Bucheobawi that you’ve probably traveled all this way to see. Bucheobawi, which means “Buddha Rock,” in English, is located on the northern tip of Mt. Namsan (468m) in Gyeongju. But to get to Bucheobawi, you’ll first need to make your way down a country road, which eventually becomes a trail that runs alongside a stream. About three hundred metres up this trail, you’ll finally come to Okryongam Hermitage. Where the hermitage is presently located was the former site of Sininsa Temple, which was built during Later Silla (668-935 A.D.). When you first approach Okryongam Hermitage, you’ll be greeted by…

  • Gyeongju

    Girimsa Temple – 기림사 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Girimsa Temple, which means “Sacred Forest Temple,” in English, is located in eastern Gyeongju. The name of the temple is a transliteration of one of the two main temples that the Buddha and his disciples were active in during Seokgamoni-bul’s (The Historical Buddha) lifetime: Venuvana and Jetavana. Of the two, it’s Jetavana that Girimsa Temple is named after. The reason that Jetavana was so important is that it’s where the Buddha spent twenty years of his life and taught the majority of his teachings. In fact, of the forty-five vassas (three month retreats), the Buddha stayed at Jetavana for nineteen of them. In Korean, the name for…

  • Gyeongju

    Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site – 황룡사지 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Everyone!! Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site, in central Gyeongju, means “Imperial Dragon Temple Site,” in English. The construction of the massive temple started in 553 A.D., during the reign of King Jinheung (r.540-576 A.D.), and it wasn’t completed until 644 A.D. during the reign of Queen Seondeok (r.632-644 A.D.). The temple stood over seventy acres, or 283,280 m2, in size. There are several legends surrounding this famously historic temple. The first is that King Jinheung planned to build a new palace northeast of the royal palace compound of Banwolseong, or “Half-Moon Palace,” in English. During this construction, a yellow dragon purportedly appeared, which was taken as an auspicious sign. So instead…

  • Gyeongju

    Bunhwangsa Temple – 분황사 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Everyone!! Bunhwangsa Temple is located in downtown Gyeongju near Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site and Wol-ji Pond. Bunhwangsa Temple means “Fragrant Emperor/Imperial Temple,” in English. Bunhwangsa Temple was first established in 634 A.D. under the auspices of the famed Silla ruler, Queen Seondeok (r.632-647 A.D.). At this time, during Queen Seondeok’s reign, Buddhism was only a century old, having only been adopted by the Silla Kingdom in 527 A.D. by King Beopheung (r.514-540 A.D). Early in its history, Bunhwangsa Temple was a large temple. It consisted of an inner gate, three golden halls, an assembly hall, a gallery, and a stone pagoda (which is the only thing that still remains today…

  • Gyeongju

    Chilbulam Hermitage – 칠불암 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Chilbulam Hermitage, which means “Seven Buddhas Hermitage,” in English, is located on the eastern slopes of the historic Mt. Namsan (495 m) in Gyeongju, which was the ancient capital of Silla (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.). The modern form of the hermitage actually only dates back to the 1930’s, when a nun was hunting for wild mushrooms on this part of Mt. Namsan. It was by mere chance that she stumbled upon a pair of statues that comprise the seven Buddhas statue at Chilbulam Hermitage. These statues were buried in the ground. Upon their discovery, the nun built a hut on the grounds. And in 2009, the…

  • Gyeongju

    Golgulsa Temple -골굴사 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Golgulsa Temple, which means “Bone Cave Temple,” in English, is located in eastern Gyeongju. East of Seokguram Hermitage, and over a mountain pass, you can find Golgulsa Temple to the south of the towering Mt. Hamwolsan (584 m) in a narrow valley. Golgulsa Temple was first built sometime during the 6th century by the monk Gwangyu. Gwangyu came back to Korea from India with some followers and built Golgulsa Temple to emulate the cave temples in India. According to the painter, Jeong Seon (1676 – 1759), pen name Gyeomjae, who painted during the mid Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), he painted Golgulsa Temple with a wooden antechamber in front…

  • Gyeongju

    Samreung Valley on Mt. Namsan – 삼릉골 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Samreung Valley, on the west side of Mt. Namsan (495.1m) in Gyeongju, means “Three Tombs Valley,” in English. If Gyeongju is considered an outdoor museum then Mt. Namsan, and, more specifically, the Samreung Valley, is an outdoor shrine to Korean Buddhism. From the visitors centre and the parking lot, it’s about a 1.5 kilometre hike to the top of the mountain. Leaving enough time to see everything, which there’s a lot to see, it’ll take anywhere from an hour to two hours to hike. The trail starts off rather easy, and then it gets gradually steeper at the midway point. The first thing you’ll come across during…

  • Gyeongju

    Seokguram Hermitage – 석굴암 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Seokguram Hermitage on Mt. Tohamsan in Gyeongju houses the most famous statue in all of Korea. In English, Seokguram Hermitage means “Stone Cave Hermitage.” Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1995 alongside Bulguksa Temple, it’s also National Treasure #24. The artificial cave at Seokguram Hermitage was first constructed by Kim Daeseong in 751 A.D. However, it wasn’t completed until after his death in 774 A.D. It’s believed, at least according to the Samguk Yusa (“Legends of the Three Kingdoms,” in English), that Bulguksa Temple at the base of Mt. Tohamsan was built for his parents in his current life and that Seokguram…

  • Gyeongju

    Bulguksa Temple – 불국사 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Without a doubt, Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju is the most famous Korean Buddhist temple both in Korea and internationally. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1995, but it also houses seven National Treasures, six Treasures, and Bulguksa Temple itself is considered a Historic Site by the Korean government. Bulguksa Temple was first constructed in 528 A.D., which was also the first year that Buddhism was officially accepted by the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C – 935 A.D.) during the reign of King Beopheung (r.514-540 A.D.). The temple was built to appease the wishes of King Beopheung’s mother, Lady Yeongje, and his wife, Queen Gi…