Gyeongju (경주)

Situated in the southeastern part of Korea, Gyeongju in Gyeongsangbuk-do was the capital of the Silla Kingdom (57 BC – AD 935), which was ruled by 56 kings over 992 years, the longest period of any dynasty in the history of Korea. Over the course of almost a thousand years, Silla transformed itself from a small tribal nation to a kingdom occupying more than half of the Korean Peninsula. During that time, Gyeongju had steadfastly remained its capital. Gyeongju had previously been called Seorabeol and Gyerim, and the name Gyeongju first appeared on record in AD 935. These days, Gyeongju continues to show its importance even though more than a thousand years have passed since the fall of the Silla Kingdom.

Buddhism, which the Silla Kingdom adopted in the 6th century, helped strengthen the royal power and unite the people. The Buddhist religion also left fascinating cultural heritages. For this reason, Gyeongju features numerous Buddhist cultural relics, and is the top destination for school trips in Korea. The Bulguksa Templeand Seokguram Grotto are major historical sites in Gyeongju and the essence of Korean Buddhist culture. In 1995, both became the first sites in Korea to be designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. In 2000, five historical sites in downtown Gyeongju became UNESCO World Cultural Heritages under the name of the Gyeongju Historic Areas. Thanks to this mass of culturally rich heritages, Gyeongju must continue to be preserved and recognized both at the national and global level.

Gyeongju can be reached by train or bus in four to five hours from Seoul. Home to the capital of the Silla Dynasty, Gyeongju has so many things to see that the whole city is often referred to as a museum without walls. In terms of city or population size, Gyeongju is just a small city. But having been the capital of a thousand year kingdom, Gyeongju cannot be viewed in just a few days. The downtown features many huge tumuli (tombs) and relics, which are very different from the royal palaces or tombs in Seoul. Here, relics from the Silla Kingdom are scattered throughout the city resulting in multiple sites being designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage under the name of the Gyeongju Historic Areas.

– Visit Korea.


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