This weekend was spent in Gyeongju which was the capital during the Shilla dynasty. I learned quite a bit about the history of Korea on this trip since we also had a tour guide.
The owner of the school I work at made a generous gesture of taking all his staff on this trip for the weekend along with his sister who is a history major from Busan that works as a tour guide so we were all quite lucky.
Gyeongju is 4 hours south east of Seoul and it’s absolutely stunning among the autumn foliage.
Bulkuksa temple is one of the best known temples in Korea and is pretty big. Although it did look like all the other Buddhist temples I’ve come across here, this one was more big and had a beautiful environmental setting around it. Nearby this temple is Seokgurum Grotto which has a statue of Buddha made out of granite atop a mountain.
Our bus drove us to the top of this huge mountain and we took a refreshing and scenic walk to the grotto which was mesmerizing. Unfortunately photos were not allowed but seeing the Buddha face to face was beautiful. It makes you wonder
how someone was able to make this piece of art a thousand years ago, with no light and so far high.
The tombs of royalty in Korea are buried similar to the Egyptians. They are buried with jewels and a lot of artifacts but instead of pyramids, they are buried in what looks like big hills. There is an ancient tomb from the Baekje dynasty (one of the 3 dynasties of Korea) next door to my apartment in Seoul, but these Shilla tombs were about 3 times its size. We were also able to go inside one of the tombs which had been excavated a few years ago. It is interesting to see how the people of these eras created these tombs in order to preserve it.
Gyeongju was a refreshing change since it had a lot of history without the neon lights and loud noises of a big city like Seoul or Busan. It is surrounded by mountains and is worth a visit for history buffs.