Gyeongju’s delights

Gyeongju’s delights

With six days in South Korea, we only have time for a one night stop between Busan, the port city in the south, and Seoul in the north, and people recommended Gyeongju.

55 miles (90 km) north of Busan and the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty, Gyeongju is famed for its many historical sites across a wide area. We were “templed out” from Japan, with low expectations for anything special in Korea, but we were proved wrong. Once you escape the hotels and shops that inevitably attach themselves these days like barnacles to any World Heritage Site, this was a rewarding place to be a tourist.

Bulguksi Temple really impressed us. Built in 774, the site was destroyed by the Japanese in 1593. So it’s a symbol of national pride that the Koreans rebuilt the whole treasure in 1969-1973. We loved its size, renovated Silla Buddhist paintwork and the thousands of hanging lanterns
The Seokguram Grotto, houses the most beautiful Buddha we have seen to date. Rather than tacky gold plating, or blemished bronze, it’s a classy white marble stone Buddha carved in 751 into its own rock temple
The Daerungwon Ancient Tombs, are 23 grass mound tombs from the Silla Dynasty, the kingdom located in southern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula from 57BC to 935AD
Three of the buildings of the Donggung Palace have been rebuilt, and it’s a pleasant stroll around the adjoining Wolji Pond

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