Sunday, June 01, 2008

Gyeongju 경주

Gyeongju was the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom, which ruled Korea between the 7th-9th centuries. During the Silla Kingdom, both secular and religious (Buddhist) art and architecture flourished. Although some sites and treasures have been damaged or destroyed over time, there is still plenty to see in Gyeongju. Although no longer a major city in Korea, Gyeongju is arguably Korea's most culturally significant city. In recognition of its role in the development of Korean culture, UNESCO named Gyeongju one of the world's ten most important ancient cultural cities. Gyeongju also boasts several sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Anapji was a pleasure garden for the royalty. When the site was restored in the 1970s, over 30,000 objects were recovered from the bottom of the man-made pond. These two buildings were rebuilt and represent only a part of the original structure.

Cheomseongdae Observatory- this is reportedly the oldest standing astronomical observatory in East Asia. It was built in the 600s by Queen Seongdeok.

Bell pavilion near the entrance to the Seokguram Grotto

Facade that protects the Seokguram Grotto, one of the finest examples of Buddhist stone art in Korea. No pictures were allowed inside, but I assure you that the sculpture were exquisite.

Tumuli Park. These hills are actually burial tombs coming from the Three Kingdoms Period (just prior to the Silla Kingdom). Several of the tombs were excavated and most of the treasure recovered, including pottery and exquisite jewelry, is now displayed in the Gyeongju National Museum.

You can get a sense for how large the tombs are by comparing them to the people.

Doors at Bulguksa, one of Korea's finest Buddhist temples

Also at Bulguksa

One of several buildings at Bulguksa. The temple originally had over 80 buildings, but now there are maybe 10 standing structures.

Quiet study at Bulguksa

Yangdong Folk Village, 30 minutes north of Gyeongju

One of several murals on the wall around the local school for the Yangdong village. This village is from the 18th century Joseon Dynasty.

There are over 150 buildings of historical importance in this village. Unlike other folk villages in Korea, people actually live and work in this village.

A man taking a break from fixing his roof.

A church in Yangdong village. The government has contributed millions to maintain this village, so why did the government or the village permit such an eyesore to be built?

Delicious rice and meat dish

A 7 dollar feast! The main meal that I ordered is boribap- barley rice. I dumped the rice into the larger bowl of greens and added the red gochujang paste. The fish, omelet and tofu soup were brought out as part of the side dishes.


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