Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site – 법흥사지 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

The Seven-Story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Temple Site History

The Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site is located in eastern Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site is backed by the Imcheonggak House; and according to Pungsu-jiri (geomancy/feng sui), the location is thought to be auspicious because of its south-facing location with a mountain to its back (Mt. Yeongnamsan) and a river (the Nakdong River) to its front.

All that remains of the former temple, Beopheungsa Temple, is the Seven-Story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site, which is National Treasure #16. Given that the temple site is located in Beopheung-ri in Andong, it’s assumed that the temple was named Beopheungsa Temple; thus, giving the area its name. It’s also believed that the temple was first founded during Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.) in the 8th century.

The Seven-Story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site was renovated in 1487. By the 18th century, the pagoda was all that remained of the former temple. And for the longest time, the Central Railway Line blocked the view of the Nakdong River from the Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site. Fortunately for us, and more recently, this line has been removed and the location has been opened up, once more.

Temple Site Layout

As was already mentioned, all that remains at the Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site is the Seven-Story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site. The brick pagoda stands an impressive seventeen metres in height, and it’s the largest and oldest brick pagoda that still remains in all of Korea.

The pagoda rests upon a single-story platform. And the pagoda is made from clay bricks. There are the Eight Guardian Deities and Four Heavenly Kings carved onto the granite base. On the southern side of the pagoda, you’ll find a stairway with a wooden door. This doorway leads into a niche inside the body of the first floor. Inside this niche, there would have been a Buddha statue; but unfortunately, this Buddha statue is long gone. And just as unfortunate, the upper part of the base is now covered in cement. The upper surface of the base was covered with cement in 1914 by the Japanese colonial government (1910-1945), which altered the original appearance of the pagoda.

As for the body, it’s made of dark gray clay bricks without any discernible patterns. As for the roof-stones to each story of the seven-story pagoda, there used to be roof tiles on the upper side of the roof stones. This is unlike other brick pagodas. As a result, it’s believed that this brick pagoda was intended to imitate the appearance of a wooden pagoda. This is interesting because brick pagodas were the transition between wood pagodas and solid stone pagodas. Also, it’s believed that there used to be a gilt-bronze finial that once crowned the top of the historical pagoda.

How To Get There

From the Andong Bus Terminal, you’ll need to walk 5 minutes, or 340 metres, to get to the “Nohadong Ipgu – 노하동 입구” bus stop. From this bus stop, you can take Bus #11, Bus #80, or Bus #628. After 10 minutes, or 16 stops, you’ll need to get off at the “Beopheungdong – 법흥동” bus stop. From where the bus drops you off, you’ll need to walk 13 minutes, or 840 metres, to get to the Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site.

Or you can simply take a taxi from the Andong Bus Terminal to get to the Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site. The taxi ride will take 15 minutes, or 8.5 km, and it’ll cost you 8,100 won (one way).

Overall Rating: 7/10

While there isn’t all that much at the former Beopheungsa-ji Temple Site, what is there is extremely impressive. The Seven-story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site is a one-off in both its size and age. Also, the wooden door to the first floor niche, and the stone roof tiles further separate this pagoda from any other pagoda in Korea. The brick pagoda is impressive, and you need to see it!

The south side of the Seven-Story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site.
The stairway and wooden door that lead to an inner niche.
One of the Eight Guardian Deities.
Another of the Eight Guardian Deities.
And one of the Four Heavenly Kings.
The beautiful south side of the brick pagoda, once more.
The northeast corner of the Seven-Story Brick Pagoda at Beopheungsa Temple Site.
An up-close of the brick pagoda.
And an up-close of the doorway to the inner niche.
And one more up-close of this beautiful pagoda in Andong!

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