Gyeongju, located in the southeastern part of the Korean Peninsula, was the capital of the Silla Kingdom (BC 57-AD 935) for almost a thousand years. The entire city was designated a National Park by the government in honor of the historic temples, ruins, monuments and artifacts that can be found throughout the area. Most prominently, it is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju Historic Areas, and the historic village of Yangdong.
These days, Gyeongju is a popular tourist destination for visitors from Korea and abroad who flock to see the famed foliage in the fall or cherry blossoms in the spring. The city is also becoming increasingly popular as a convention city thanks to its combination of old world charm and high-tech facilities.
Attractions – UNESCO World Heritage Sites
One of Korea’s best known temples, Bulguksa is a testimony to both the skills of Silla architects and the depth of Buddhist faith. While most of the wooden buildings have been rebuilt over the centuries, all the stone bridges, stairways and pagodas are original. The temple, originally built in 528 and expanded in 751, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Dating back to the same period as Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram is one of the world’s finest Buddha shrines. Surrounded by bodhisattvas and guardian deities, the serene central statue of Buddha gazes out over the forested hills and across the East Sea to the horizon. In 1995, Seokguram Grotto was added to UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage list.
Gyeongju Historic Areas
Gyeongju Historic Areas which embody the time-honored history and culture of Gyeongju can be divided into 5 major sections: Namsan, Wolseong, Daereungwon, Hwangnyongsa, and Sanseong. There are a total of 52 designated cultural assets that are registered as World Cultural Heritages and the area itself was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Yangdong Village in Gyeongju has maintained the traditions of a typical clan-based village for over 550 years, dating back to the Joseon Dynasty (1394-1910). The village consists of more than 150 hanoks (traditional houses), including 54 houses that are over 200 years old. Inhabited by the Wolseong Son and Yeogang Lee families, Yangdong was registered as an important Folk Material of Korea and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.