What to Do in Gyeongju

Gyeongju Attractions

Gyeongju is representative of the rich history and culture of South Korea, which makes it one of the most prolific must-visit destinations in the country. Also known as the ‘Museum Without Walls’, Gyeongju’s primary attractions are its historical and archaeological sites that shed light on the heritage of the place. This city was the former capital of the Silla Kingdom, which ruled Korea from the 7th to the 9th century; and this is one of the main reasons why

Gyeongju still has many remains and remnants of that period, making it extremely valuable for those with an interest in history. Gyeongju is also the right place to visit if you are fond of natural scenery and wish to see its great coastline. Make sure you plan your trip in advance and identify the locations that you want to visit in Gyeongju – there are many options, and you may not be able to cover all the historic sites if you are on a short, time-bound trip. In order to make things easier, given below are some of the attractions in Gyeongju we recommend.

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Anapji Pond

According to the historical records, the Anapji Pond was built during King Munmu’s reign. This pond and a number of hills were built within the palace walls, and the gardens were filled with beautiful flowering plants and rare animals to create an exquisite environment in and around the palace. The pond was revealed during an excavation and has been restored in order to allow visitors to witness it in its original splendor.

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 - 22:00
  • Location: Inwang-dong 26-1, Gyeongsanbuk-do
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Banwolseong Fortress

Banwolseong Fortress, also known as Wolseong Palace, was named after the crescent-shaped moon. In fact, the translation of Banwolseong is ‘Crescent moon shape on the hill’. According to legend, the land where the grand fortress once stood was acquired by Seoktalhae from a man with magical powers who lived on this site. At the moment, only the ruins of this palace and some other places of interest remain amongst the lush hills and forests around this area – however, they are worth a visit.

  • Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
  • Location: Inwang-dong, Banwolseong, Gyeongsanbuk-do
  • Price Range: No Admission Fee
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Bulguksa Temple

Bulguksa Temple, also known as the ‘Temple of the Buddha Land’, is a popular Buddhist temple in Gyeongju on the slopes of Mt. Tohamsan. Unlike the Seoukguram Grotto, the Bulguksa Temple has been restored to bring it to its current form. The origins of this temple can be traced back to 535 to King Pob-hung’s period when it was used by his queen for praying. Legend has it that the present-day temple was then designed by the Prime Minister Kim Daeseong back in 751 at the same site and was completed in 774.

The historic pagodas and the foundations are the only original structures in the temple, while the rest of the temple has been reconstructed.

  • Opening Hours: 07:00 - 18:00
  • Location: Tohamsan, Jinhyeon-dong 15-1, Gyeongsangbuk-do
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Cheomseongdae Observatory

For those interested in astronomy, Cheomseongdae Observatory comes highly recommended. This is one of the most ancient astronomical observatories in Asia and dates back to the period of Queen Seon-deok. The observatory was mainly used to forecast weather. 362 stones have been piled up to form this 9.17 metre high observatory. These stones are said to have been used to represent 362 days in a lunar year.

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 - 22:00 during summer and 09:00 - 21:00 during winter
  • Location: Inwang-dong 839-1, Gyeongsanbuk-do
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Gyeongju Historic Area

The Gyeongju Historic Area is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the city and represents the culture and history of the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom – in other words, it's a treat for all history lovers. There are five sections that are highly recommended for visitors, namely the Namsan area, Wolseong area, Daereungwon area, Hwangnyongsa area, and the Sanseong area.

  • Location: Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsanbuk-do
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Gyeongju National Park

The Gyeongju National Park has a number of cultural preserves that date back to the Silla Dynasty; in fact, it is the only historical national park here. The park covers a number of important historical sites from the Silla period in Gyeongju making it a must on any history buff's itinerary.

  • Opening Hours: Varies depending on the sites you want to visit
  • Location: Nodong-dong, Gyeongsanbuk-do

King Munmu's Tomb

King Munmu’s tomb is an underwater tomb on the small rocky islet en route from Gyeongju to Bonggil-ri. King Munmu was the 30th ruler of the Silla kingdom and holds the credit for unifying the three kingdoms. The King wanted to be buried in the East Sea after his death so that he could take the form of a dragon, watch over Silla, and protect the kingdom from Japanese invasion. This is a great place to visit for both enjoying the natural beauty as well as learning about the history of the place.

  • Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
  • Location: Yangbuk-myeon Bonggil-ri 26, Gyeongsanbuk-do, South Korea
  • Price Range: No Admission Fee
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Poseokjeongji Pavilion

The Poseokjeongji Pavilion, situated on a rock next to a stream in Gyeongsanbuk-do, was the royal villa of the Silla dynasty. Though the royal villa does not exist anymore, a stone waterway in the shape of a shell still remains. The pavilion is believed to have been built with 63 different kinds of rocks. This is the place where Silla kings would come with their nobles and officials for recreation.

  • Opening Hours: March - October 09:00 - 18:00 and November - February 09:00 - 17:00
  • Location: Bae-dong 454-3, Gyeongsanbuk-do
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Seokguram Grotto

The Seokguram Grotto, which means the ‘Stone Cave Hermitage’, is a popular stone temple in Korea situated on Mt. Tohamsan. This temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed with granite by the rulers of the Silla Dynasty, Seokguram was built by the emperor Kim Dae-Seong for his parents in his former life and it was built along with the Bulguska Temple, which is situated on the slopes of the mountain. The spot where the temple is situated offers a beautiful sunrise view that is quite unique and breathtaking.

  • Opening Hours: February - March 07:00 - 17:00, March - September 06:30 - 18:00 and November - January 07:00 - 17:00
  • Location: Tohamsan, Jinhyeon-dong 999, Gyeongsangbuk-do
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