Top 5: Temples in Gyeongju, South Korea

by Benjamin Kerns

Aug 20, 2019

© Panithi33 |
Another member of Korea’s Five Grand Palaces collection, Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul was also built during the Joseon Dynasty. Though much of the temple was damaged during the Japanese occupation of Korea, several original structures survive, retaining architectural elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

Destinations / Asia

Gyeongju offers some of the most beautiful architecture in South Korea. The stunning temples dotting the landscape make a visit to the city worthwhile on their own — be sure to check these out on your visit.



Bulguksa is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, located on the slopes of Mount Toham. A legion of monks takes meticulous care of the stone pagodas and wooden shrines, creating a setting of peaceful tranquility not to be missed.



Golgulsa is just 20 kilometers outside of Gyeongju, near the oldest historical Buddhist ruins of Mt. Hamwol. The rock-carved Buddha faces the underwater tomb of King Munmu, surrounded by impressive grotto Dharma halls. The temple was first built nearly 1,500 years ago.



Bunhwangsa is not quite the spectacle it used to be, but was once one of four main temples of the Silla Kingdom covering several acres. Today, the still-standing stone Bunhwangsa Pagoda is considered a national treasure. Built with stone and black andesite, the pagoda was originally nine stories tall, but only three of them are still intact today.



Seokguram is a hermitage and grotto part of the Bulguksa temple complex, most popular for its stunning views of sunrise of the seat, which can be viewed from near the Buddha’s perch. The temple itself boasts an impressive array of stupas — or holy carvings — into the cave walls.


Sinseonsa Temple

Sinseonsa Temple lies near the peak of Mt. Danseoksan, the tallest mountain in the Gyeongju region. The spot is famous as the location where General Kim Yushin was trained as a Hwarang, said to have learned to cut large rocks open with his sword. The rock he learned on still resides there today, alongside beautiful rock carvings.


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