Being only 57km (approximately 35 miles) from Daegu, today we decided to take a city tour around Gyeongju. Anna’s dad kindly dropped us off at the coach stop where our tour was heading out from, and we soon set off for our first stop- a traditional Korean tomb which was the burial site of King Taejong Muyeorwang (the 29th ruler of the Silla Kingdom). This was one of two tomb sites we visited around Gyeongju.
The tomb where the king was buried- to put it into perspective, the circumference of the tomb’s mound was 114m and it’s height is 8.5m.
A tortoise shaped pedestal near the tomb
I labelled this post as partially dawdling because it was at attraction 1 where my travel companion, Anna and I fell behind the rest of the tour group 🙂 we caught them up again, but sometimes you just have that desire to view an attraction without lots of background discussion and I think that’s how we felt earlier on in the day.
Next the coach took us to Tumuli in Hwangnam-ri, Gyeongju. These are a set of tombs scattered around the Hwangnam-dong area, some of which are believed to have been created during the early Silla period.
The grounds surrounding the Silla tombs
The main tomb in the grounds was nicknamed Cheonmachong due to a flying horse painted on the pendant of a saddle excavated from the tomb. The inside of the tomb was full of history and other artefacts retrieved from the tomb but unfortunately, photography was prohibited in there (and to be fair, I felt weird about breaking the rules somewhere honouring a dead person). So below is a picture of the entrance to the tomb instead:
The next stop was my favourite, but one that really comes alive at night (you’ll see what I mean in part 2). Anapji Pond is an artificially constructed landscape that boasts natural beauty- kind of oxymoronic but somehow it works. Built during the 14th year of King Munmu, it was destroyed but excavated in 1974. With some of the original features remaining and historical records, the garden has been restored and is very picturesque:
Next we went to see the Seokguram Grotto and the Bulguksa Temple.
The Grotto was constructed by prime minister Gim Dae-Seong in 751, the 10th year of the Silla King Gyeondeok.
Climbing to the Grotto and a water feature you are meant to drink from for luck and longevity
The Seokguram Grotto consists of an antechamber and round main hall, in which sits a large Buddha carved in granite. Again, I was unable to take a photo here but it was tough to see the Buddha properly anyway since it was busy and the statue sits behind a glass wall.
A prayer room and being able to write wishes to loved ones on slabs, which was a nice touch
Building works slightly ruined the ambience of the place though
Our final stop was the Bulguksa Temple, which was surrounded by some beautiful lakes and vegetation:
Above images of areas surrounding the temple and below, the temple itself
We ended the tour part of the day being dropped in an unfamiliar hotel. But as we later found out Gyeongju at night is incredibly different to Gyeongju during the day 🙂