• Gyeongju

    Heungnyunsa Temple – 흥륜사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Heungnyunsa Temple was first established by the Goguryeo missionary monk Ado-hwasang. Ado-hwasang came to the Silla Kingdom from the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.) to help spread the teachings of Buddhism. Heungnyunsa Temple was originally built as a poor thatched-roof building. Heungnyunsa Temple was later rebuilt as a great temple of the Silla Kingdom after the martyrdom of the monk Ichadon (501-527 A.D.). Heungnyunsa Temple, which is also known as Heungnyunsa-ji Temple Site, was the first temple to be officially state-sponsored by the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.) in February, 544 A.D. The temple was expanded and rebuilt from its humble beginnings into a…

  • Gyeongju

    Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site – 굴불사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History Gulbulsa-ji Temple Site is located in the centre of Gyeongju at the base of Mt. Sogeumgangsan (176.7 m). According to the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), a 13th century text, King Gyeongdeok of Silla (r. 742-765 A.D.) was making the short trek to the neighbouring Baeknyulsa Temple. Baeknyulsa Temple is located a little further up Mt. Sogeumgangsan. However, as King Gyeongdeok of Silla was making his way towards Baeknyulsa Temple, he inextricably heard Buddhist invocations coming from the ground around his feet. King Gyeongdeok of Silla believed that these invocations were the sound of a Buddhist monk reading Buddhist sutras, so he immediately ordered his…

  • Gyeongju

    Gameunsa-ji Temple Site – 감은사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple Site History The history of Gameunsa-ji Temple Site is inextricably linked to King Munmu of Silla (r. 661-681 A.D.). King Munmu of Silla is considered to be the first king of Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.). And it’s this link to history, and the defence of the kingdom that he unified, that the course of Gameunsa-ji Temple Site and King Munmu are forever connected. King Munmu of Silla (626-681 A.D.) was the oldest son of King Taejong Muyeol of Silla (r. 654-661 A.D.). During his father’s reign, Prince Beopmin (as he was known before he ascended the throne) held a governmental office that oversaw maritime affairs. He was also an…

  • Gyeongju

    Borisa Temple – 보리사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Borisa Temple is located on the northeast side of Mt. Namsan (494 m) in the historic town of Gyeongju. The name of the temple means “Awakening Enlightenment Temple” or “Bodhi Temple” in English. It’s believed that the temple was first established in 886 A.D., during the 12th year of King Heongang of Silla’s reign (875-886 A.D.). The founder of the temple is unknown. Not only is Borisa Temple the largest Buddhist temple on Mt. Namsan, but it also falls administratively under the famed Bulguksa Temple. In fact, Borisa Temple is mentioned in the historic Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms). The 13th century text discusses the location…

  • Gyeongju

    Sinseonsa Temple – 신선사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History 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 the…

  • Gyeongju

    Bucheobawi/Okryongam Hermitage – 부처바위/옥룡암 (Gyeongju)

    Shrine and Hermitage History 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.). Shrine and Hermitage Layout When you first approach Okryongam…

  • Gyeongju

    Girimsa Temple – 기림사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History 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 Jetavana…

  • Gyeongju

    Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site – 황룡사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History 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)

    Temple History 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)

    Hermitage History 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 present…