Top 20 Tourist Spots in Gyeongju

Top 20 Tourist Spots in Gyeongju

Of so many historically important sites and tourist attractions in the city known as
the "Museum without Walls," we introduce top 20 spots in Gyeongju.

Known as “the museum without walls,” the entire city of Gyeongju is like a museum, with ubiquitous historic sites and tourist destinations. Here are 20 best spots to visit while visiting Gyeongju. We advise viewers to search for the true spirit of Gyeongju, from myths of founding kings of the Silla Kingdom to scientific technology and artistry ahead of the Silla generation, and visit meaningful historic sites with traces of Silla culture leading to the Confucian culture of the later Joseon Dynasty and tourist sites where the cultural heritage of the Silla Kingdom is reinterpreted in the modern context, not to mention the city’s natural environment, mountains, fields, and ocean.

Downtown Area

  • Gyeongju National Museum
  • Gyeongju National Museum
    Gyeongju National Museum started out as an annex of the National Museum of Gyeongju in 1945 and moved to its present location in 1975. The museum, which chronicles the thousand-year history of the splendid Silla Kingdom and cultural heritage, consists of three permanent exhibition halls -- Silla History Hall, Silla Art Hall, and Wolji Hall -- as well as an annex of the Special Exhibition Hall and the Outdoor Exhibition Hall. The museum operates various experience and educational programs, including Children’s Museum and Gyeongju Children’s Museum School (since 1954). Displayed in the Outdoor Exhibition Hall is Korea’s representative bell, the Divine Bell of King Seonjong (National Treasure, No. 29). With its elegant shape, elaborate decoration, and sculptural techniques and magnificent sound, the bell is considered one of the masterpieces showcasing the golden era of art in the Unified Silla Kingdom.

    Address : 186, Iljeong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-740-7500
  • Gyeongju Gyochon Village
  • Gyeongju Gyochon Village
    The geographic name “Gyochon (校村)” was derived from “Hyanggyo (鄕校),” the national education institution of the Joseon Dynasty. Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village became famous nationwide for the address of the city’s wealthy family, known as “the Rich Choi Family,” who, for the past 400 years from 1568 until 1970 -- or 12 generations -- practiced Korean-style noblesse oblige. Today, Gyochon is a hanok village offering various experience and educational programs wherein visitors can take part in Korean traditional culture. The old-style plaza in front of the village regularly stages various performances, and the Hyanggyo inside the village runs a traditional wedding reenactment program. Woljeong (月精), the royal palace of the United Silla Kingdom, and Wolseong Bridge as the route connecting the capital, aka Seorabeol, in the south show off their former glory, since they were restored through the city’s restoration project of core historic sites in the royal capital of the Silla Kingdom.

    Address : 39-2, Gyochon-gil, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-779-6142
  • Gyerim
  • Gyerim
    Gyerim (鷄林), a legendary forest of zelkova trees and red leaf willow trees, is where Kim Al-ji (金閼智), the progenitor of the Kim clan of Gyeongju, was born. Originally, the dense forest was called Sirim (始林); since his birth, however, it has been called Gyerim. According to the myth of Kim Al-ji, in the 9th year under the reign of King Talhae (4th King of the Silla Dynasty who ruled between AD 57-80), when the sound of a rooster crying in Sirim was heard along with the shining of a large bright light, villagers approached and found a white rooster next to a golden chest. Inside the chest was a sagacious-looking baby boy. Believing the child was sent from the heaven, the King adopted him as his Crown Prince. The boy was named “Al-ji,” which means baby; since he came from a gold chest, his last name became Kim (金) or gold. Gyerim has maintained its aura of mystery and holiness for over 2,000 years since the beginning of the Silla Dynasty. The forest is designated as Historic Site No. 19.

    Address : 27-8, Gyochonan-gil, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-779-8743
  • Donggung Palace and Woljo Pond
  • Donggung Palace and Woljo Pond
    Donggung, or East Palace, and Wolji (Anapji) were formerly a palatial garden and a pond near the northeast part of Wolseong where Silla Kings resided. According to the Chronicles of the Three States (三國史記, 674 or 14th year under the reign of King Munmu), in the palace, a pond was dug and a mound was built; there, flowers and plants were planted, and rare and extraordinary birds and animals were raised. Wolji is believed to be the pond made at that time as part of Imhaejeon Hall. Dredging construction and archaeological investigation since 1974 led to discoveries of some 30,000 relics from the ground, from which a selection of 700 outstanding works of art are on display in Wolji Hall inside Gyeongju National Museum. East Palace and Wolji are designated as Historic Site No. 18.

    Address : 102, Wonhwa-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-779-8795~7
  • Cheomseongdae Observatory
  • Cheomseongdae Observatory
    Constructed during the rule of Queen Seondeok (27th ruler of the Silla Dynasty, from 632 to 647), Cheomseongdae is regarded as Asia’s finest observatory with height of 9.17 m and base diameter of 5.17 m. This circular stone building is made by piling a total of 361 pieces of stone brick measuring 30 cm high; from the bottom to the top square-shaped roof are 28 layers, each of which bears a high-level symbolic meaning. The size of the diameter making up each stone layer decreases as it goes up, creating a superbly elegant curved line. The record in “the Heritage of the Three States” stating that a man went up and down the observatory to observe stars coincides with the state of the actual building. Cheongseongdae is designated as Natural Treasure No. 31.

    Address : 169-5, Cheomseong-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea

Bomun Area

  • gyeongju East Palace Garden & Bird Park
  • gyeongju East Palace Garden & Bird Park
    Donggungwon, or East Palace Garden, and Gyeongju Bird Park are the modern reinterpretation of East Palace and Wolji in the form of botanical garden and bird park. Also known as Anapji, Donggung and Wolji were the palace’s official garden and pond built in 674 or the 14th year of the reign of King Munmu of the Silla Dynasty. Contained in the record in “the Chronicles of the Three States” is the purpose of the construction, since it states that, in February in the 14th year of the rule of King Munmu, a pond was dug and a mound was made there, and that flowers and plants were planted and rare and extraordinary birds and animals were raised there. The botanical garden of Donggungwon is a modern building inspired by the Korean hanok and is composed of five themes: Palm Garden, Flower and Tree Garden, Water Life Garden, Tropical Fruit Garden, and Foliage Plant Garden. About 5,500 living plants of 400 species are planted here. Gyeongju Bird Park, on the other hand, retains about 900 birds of 250 species inside the smoothly streamlined building inspired by a bird nest.

    Address : 74-14, Bomun-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-779-8725
  • Bomun Lake
  • Bomun Lake
    Bomunho is an artificial lake measuring 1650,000㎡ and is made below the fortress site of Mount Myeonghwal east of Gyeongju. Along the lake are five-star hotels, resorts, museums, and theme park; the well-made trail for walking and bicycles is popular. The lake comes with a wharf for cruise ship and a multimedia performance hall, and visitors can enjoy a variety of cultural experiences through cruise and pedal boat rides and outdoor performances.

    Address : 446, Bomun-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea

Bulguksa Area

  • Seokguram Grotto
  • Seokguram Grotto
    The construction of Seokguram Grotto was initiated by Kim Dae-seong, the Silla Dynasty prime minister, for the purpose of serving his deceased parents in year 751 or the 10th year of the rule of King Gyeongdeok. It was completed in 774, the 10th year of the rule of King Hyegong. Originally, the name of the stone cave temple was Seokbulsa (石佛寺). By carving natural granite, the temple is a man-made work, and its construction plan was a physically materialized synthesis of architecture, mathematics, geometry, religion, and art, becoming the highlight of Buddhist art and the finest masterpiece ever built during the golden era of the Silla Kingdom. Designated as National Treasure No. 24, Seokguram Grotto became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in December 1995 along with Bulgulsa Temple.

    Address : 873-243, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-746-9933
  • Bulguksa
  • Bulguksa
    Bulgulsa Temple was built at the same time as Seokguram Grotto in 751 during the rule of King Gyeokdeok by the same man, Prime Minister Kim Jae-sang, in honor of his deceased parents and was completed in 774. The Bulgulsa Three-story Stone Pagoda (National Treasure No. 21), a.k.a. Seokgatap Pagoda or Muyeongtap Pagoda, Dabotap Pagoda (National Treasure No. 20), Yeonhwagyo Bridge, and Chilbogyo Bridge (National Treasure No. 22) and Baegungyo (National Treasure No. 23) on the temple ground show the outstanding artistry and stone building techniques of the Silla people. Bulgulsa Temple is a representative case wherein Buddhist teachings are well-materialized through the Buddhist temple architecture; it is visually stunning in terms of architectural aesthetics. Along with Seokguram Grotto, the temple was designated as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in December 1995.

    Address : 385, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-746-9913
  • Dongri Mokwol Literature House
  • Dongri Mokwol Literature House
    Commemorating two key literary masters representing Gyeongju, Kim Dong-ni and Park Mok-wol, the library museum was established in 2006. The museum hosts the annual Dongni Mokwol Literature Festival. It consists of two halls -- Dongni Hall and Mokwol Hall -- which display the two writers’ books donated by the families of the deceased as well as a library of about 7,000 books and handwritten manuscripts, 1,500 literary materials, 250 articles left by the deceased, and about 30 units of cherished items. After a visit to Dongni Mokwol Library Museum, a literature tour around various places in Gyeongju, which are known as the backdrop of the late writers’ works, is recommended.

    Address : 406-3, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-772-3002
  • Gyeongju Wind Farm
  • Gyeongju Wind Farm
    Gyeongju Wind Farm is found at the foot of Mount Toham where Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto are located. A total of seven pinwheels generating energy and the beautiful landscape of the field create an exotic mood, making it an ideal place for strolling or relaxation.

    Address : 1717-1, Gyeonggam-ro, Yangbuk-myeon, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea

Namsan Area

  • Gyeonju Historic Areas
  • Gyeonju Historic Areas
    The five districts in Gyeongju – Namsan, Daereungwon, Wolseong, Hwangryongsa, and Sanseong – were listed as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO under the name “Gyeongju Historic Sites” in November 2000. Namsan District is a rich repository and an outdoor museum of Silla Buddhist art. Distributed all over Daereungwon District are ancient tombs of Silla Kings and Queens. Wolseong District is the site of the royal palace of the 1,000-year-old dynasty. Hwangryongsa District presents the essence of Silla Buddhism, and Sanseong District was once the core of defense system of the royal capital. Gyeongju Historic Sites are evaluated as excellent in terms of density and diversity of relics. A total of 52 designated cultural properties are included in the sites.

    Address : 9, Gyerim-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
  • Namsan Moutain and Samreung Woods
  • Namsan Moutain and Samreung Woods
    To know how important Namsan is, they say, “One cannot say one saw Gyeongju without climbing Namsan.” Namsan is the area that best compresses the thousand-year-old Silla history and culture. Due to Mount Namsan’s role as both bulwark to protect the country and the holy ground of Buddhism to her people, the mountain is packed with hundreds of stone Buddha statues, stone pagodas, and old temple sites. Visitors can discover the hidden charms of the mountain by taking part in Silla Buddhist Art Tour to appreciate ancient artworks while climbing up the mountain and in the Gyeongju Namsan Historic Site Tour. At the entrance is Samneung, or Three Tombs, of Silla Kings, Adalla (the 8th king), Sindeok (the 53rd king), and Gyeongmyeong (the 54th king), which is famous for the unexplored pine tree forest, attracting famous photographers from around the world.

    Address : 682-27, Poseok-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
  • Seochulji Pond
  • Seochulji Pond
    Seochulji is a pond with a fable about a crow saving the life of Silla King Soji (the 21st king who ruled from 479 to 500). In the pond, “Seochulji (書出池),” which literally means “writing from the pond,” is Iyodang (二樂堂), a pavilion standing above the stone pillars, as if the building rose from the water. The half of the L-shaped pavilion is afloat on the water. Summer is the best time when lotus flowers and crape myrtles in full bloom envelop the Iyodang Pavilion, creating a fantastic landscape and, to visitors, an unforgettable memory. The pond is designated as Historic Site No. 138.

    Address : 17, Namsan 1-gil, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-779-8743, 8759

Donghae Area

  • Masonry Stone Pagoda in Gameunsa Temple Site
  • Masonry Stone Pagoda in Gameunsa Temple Site
    Gameunsa Temple was built by the 31st Silla King, King Sinmun, to fulfill his father King Munmu’s (the 30th king who ruled from 661 to 681) wish to subdue Japanese military aggression. King Munmu, who initiated the construction, named the temple Jinguksa (鎭國寺), which means to protect his country; when King Sinmun completed the construction, however, he renamed it Gameunsa (感恩寺) to express gratitude for his father’s loyal heart to protect Silla. Presently, only the temple site and two three-storied stone pagodas remain, and the two pagodas are called East and West Three-Storied Stone Pagoda in Gaeumsa Temple Site. Gameunsa Temple Stone Pagoda, measuring 13.4 m high, consists of two stories of stylobates and three stories of the main body; the pair share identical size and composition. The pagodas are famous for their grandeur, excellent proportion, and aesthetics. Gaeunsa Temple Site (Historic Site No. 31) is a historically important relic showing the first change of architectural alignment, from one pagoda to a pair of temples in a temple in the Silla Kingdom. The pagodas are designated as National Treasure No. 112.

    Address : 1248, Donghaean-ro, Yangbuk-myeon, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-779-8743, 8759
  • Golgulsa Temple
  • Golgulsa Temple
    Golgulsa (骨窟寺) Temple is Korea’s only stone cave temple built around the 6th century by Master Gwangyu (光有聖人) from India, who settled down in Mount Hamwol in Gyeongju. Twelve stone caves in the temple are used as Buddhist sanctuaries and living quarters. With high ushnisha (肉髻) and voluminous face, the Seated Buddha Image (磨崖如來坐像) carved in relief on the rock wall where the stone cave is located manifests the characteristics of the 9th-century Silla Buddha statues. As the head temple of Seonmudo Martial Arts, one of the Buddhist performances, Golgulsa is called Korea’s Shaolin Monastery. The temple is famous for Temple Stay programs highlighting the Seonmudo experience.

    Address : 37, Girim-ro, Yangbuk-myeon, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-744-1689
  • Girimsa Temple
  • Girimsa Temple
    Founded in 643, or the 12th year under the reign of Queen Seondeok of Silla, Girimsa Temple is one of the 31st head temples (三十一本山) of the Joseon Dynasty and a branch temple (末寺) of Bulgulsa Temple. At first, it was called Imjeongsa Temple, but Venerable Wonhyo is known to have expanded and changed it to Girimsa Temple. The temple includes Daejeokgwangjeon Hall (Treasure No. 833), which houses the Vairocana Buddha as the deity, Three-storied Stone Pagoda, and Lacquered Image of Seated Bodhisattva Statue (Treasure No. 415). There is also Maewolsadang Shrine commemorating Kim Si-seup, the author of Korea’s first Chinese-language novel “The Story of Mt. Geumo (金鰲新話); the temple is famous for “Ojongsu (五種水),” or five kinds of water deemed as the best water for brewing tea.

    Address : 417, Hoam-ri, Yangbuk-myeon, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-744-2292
  • Eupcheonhang Gallery and Padosori-gil
  • Eupcheonhang Gallery and Padosori-gil
    The 1.7 km-long coastal trail from Haseohang Port to Eupcheonhang Port in East Sea is a great place to enjoy the sea and for strolling and jogging. Near Eupcheonhang Port is Yangnam Jusangjeolli Cliff, designated as Natural Heritage No. 536. In general, most Jusangjeolli, or lava cliffs with columnar joints, are vertical, but the cliff here is unique since molten lava is formed horizontally and in fan shape. In the village of Eupcheonhang Port, viewers can find some 200 interesting murals painted in many walls. Recently, the area with murals earned the new name “Eupcheonhang Port Gallery” since it became a popular tourist destination along with Padosori-gil Trail.

    Address : 19, Naa 1-gil, Yangnam-myeon, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-744-2292

Bukbu Area

  • Yangdong Village
  • Yangdong Village
    Formed by two families, Son of Wolseong and Lee of Yeogang, Yangdong Village is made of about 150 traditional houses with tile roofs and thatched roofs, preserving the Joseon Dynasty architecture and folk materials. The entire village is designated as cultural property. It is Korea’s representative village of clans and aristocrats from the 14~15th centuries. For generations, the village has properly transmitted traditional Korean architecture, composition of houses, and ways of living based on climate, geographical position with its back to the mountain and facing the water, and Confucian manners of the Joseon Dynasty. With its value recognized by UNESCO, it was designated as World Cultural Heritage in August 2010 together with Hahoe Traditional Village in Andong.

    Address : 138-18, Yangdongmaeul-gil, Gangdong-myeon, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 070-7098-3569
  • Dokrakdang
  • Dokrakdang
    Dokrakdang is the Sarangchae (guesthouse or men’s quarters) of the old house once occupied by Hoejae Lee Eon-jeok, who was a court official and master of Neo-Confucianism in the mid-Joseon Dynasty under the reign of King Jungjong (the 11th king who ruled from 1506 to 1544). It is a historically rich building where the retired scholar lived after returning to his hometown Gyeongju, and one-storied gambrel roofed house featuring four rooms in the front and two rooms on the side on top of low stylobates. The house is characteristic since it is not visible from outside the low fence because of the low roof and the Creek Pavilion, which functions as both a pavilion and a fence and makes the forest and the creek next to the house part of Dokrakdang, as if the natural environment is a garden of the house. Near Dokrakdang is Oksanseowon, which was built in 1574 and whose name was conferred by the king to commemorate Master Lee Eon-jeok.

    Address : 300-3, Oksanseowon-gil, Angang-eup, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
    Tel. : 054-779-6109