Five Historical Spots In South Korea You Shouldn’t Miss


Jongmyo Royal Shrine, Seoul
TYM-Month4-Article-Korean-Pic1This myo (royal shrine) in Seoul is the most important one in the country and is home to the longest traditional wooden building left in Korea. The Confucian shrine was built by Lee Seong Gye (1335-1408), the first king and founding father of the Joseon Dynasty, and is designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site for its well-preserved ancient customs such as memorial services and traditional music. Try to time your visit for the spectacular annual memorial ceremony for the dead Joseon kings (usually in early May).

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Seokguram Grotto , Gyeongju
TYM-Month4-Article-Korean-Pic2Nestled in Gyeongju, an ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, is an artificial grotto constructed of granite called Seokguram. It enshrines a monumental statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha looking out to sea. The Buddha is surrounded by Bodhisattvas, the Ten Disciples, Eight Divine Guardians, two Devas, and two Vajrapanis – all carved from white granite. They are considered masterpieces of East Asian Buddhist Art.

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Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju
TYM-Month4-Article-Korean-Pic3The Shilla dynasty spanned a thousand years, from 57 BC to 935 AD, and Gyeongju remained the capital of the Kingdom throughout the entire period. Many of the city’s historical buildings have been restored to their former glory, and among these is the Bulguksa Temple. First built in 528 AD, it has, over the centuries, been rebuilt, renovated, and restored. In addition to housing several priceless cultural relics, the temple complex pagodas Dabotap (Many Treasure Pagoda) and Seokgatap (Sakyamuni Pagoda) are two of the most valued pagodas in Korea,  designated as Korean National Treasures in 1962.

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Changdeokgung, Seoul
TYM-Month4-Article-Korean-Pic4If you want to see how Korean royalty used to live, this palace is a good example. Changdeokgung, literally ‘Prospering Virtue Palace’, is one of the Five Grand Palaces built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. First built in the 14th century, the palace is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its famed Biwon (Secret Garden) alone is worth the visit.

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Gwanghallu-won, Namwon
TYM-Month4-Article-Korean-Pic5This picturesque garden is home of the legend of Chunhyang (a traditional love story about a nobleman’s son who falls in love with a courtesan’s daughter). Originally built by in 1419 during the reign of Joseon Dynasty’s King Sejong, it was given the name ‘Gwanghallu’ in 1444, comparing it to a palace on the moon, because of its surreal beauty.

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Author: Song Lianyi

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