Gyeongju (경주) was the former capital city of Silla (신라). The Silla Kingdom formerly ruled the Korean Peninsula and traces of its existence can be seen all over Gyeongju. For example, the Cheomseongdae (첨성대) is an astronomical observatory that dates back to the Silla Period. The Cheomseongdae is an important discovery because as of yet it may be the oldest observatory in East Asia.
Another important Silla Dynasty discovery in Gyeongju is the Seokguram (석굴암). The Seokguram is a grotto that contains some of the best Buddha sculptures from the Silla Era. Some historians have concluded that the Seokguram was built exclusively for the Silla Royal Family, but today everyone can see the sculptures of Seokguram through a glass wall. The most famous of all the sculptures is the statue of the main Buddha, which is the most iconic image of Gyeongju.
The Silla People were creative and had advanced technology because they were able to creat an artificial pond that we now call Anapji (안압지). In an effort to repair the Anapji so as to make it suitable for public display, the pond was drained of water. It was then that archeologists discovered Silla jewelry, bronze Buddha figurines, roof tiles, pottery, etc. Hundreds of these items are on display Anapji Exhibition Hall in the Gyeongju National Museum.
Gyeongju is also a great place to see items from the Joseon Era. The Gyeongju Seokbinggo (경주석빙고) was an ice storage house used to store ice in the Joseon Period. The Gyeongju Seokbinggo is National Treasure #66. Tourists can still see the stone Gyeongju Seokbinggo and monument, as well as the keystone inscriptions that stand at the entrance. The monuments and inscriptions tell a little about the origins of the ice storage house in Gyeongju.
Gyeongju is not just a city that has links to the past. It is a thriving and modern city with many sites that symbolize the tie between the past and the present. Take for example the Gyeongju Tower (경주타워). The Gyeongju Tower is as tall as a thirty story apartment. The center of the Tower has been cut out to resemble a pagoda, which represents Gyeongju’s reputation as an old city in a modern setting. Gyeongju is a wonderful place to see, so make sure to go visit!