Bulguk-sa (불국사) is probably the best known among the Korean temples and one of the major attractions of Kyongju, Korea’s old capital city during Shilla dynasty. It is an absolutely must to see this amazing beautiful and peaceful temple, built on the slopes of mount Toham.
The construction of Bulguk-sa was started in 751 and was finalized more than 20 years later (774). However temple’s record state that there was already a small temple at this site around 528.
Bulguk-sa, which means Temple of Buddha land, is classified as Historic and Scenic Site n° 1 by the Korean Government and is on the list of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage since 1995.
The wooden buildings of the temple have been renovated many times. The main renovation to its current form was done under president Park Chung Hee (1969 – 1973). The stone parts, however, are preserved from the original construction during Shilla dynasty.
The temple has seven National treasures, among them Dabotap (No. 20) and Seokgatap (No. 21) stone pagoda’s, the Blue & White Cloud bridges (No. 23) and two gilt-bronze Buddha statues (No 26 & 27).
I came to Bulguksa for the first in spring 2000. Since that time I’ve been visiting Bulguk-sa 5 times, in different seasons and it is always very nice to visit.
Since the site is one of the major attractions in Kyongju it can be very busy by the many visitors and school kids who definitely like to make pictures with foreigners.
But it can also be a very peaceful and heavenly place. Walking around and exploring this masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art is an awesome experience !
If you have time I would recommend you a one hour walk (climb) to Seokkuram Grotto, a hermitage of Bulguk-sa.
The combination of these two sites will give you an unforgettable Korea experience making it worth to travel all the way from Seoul to the southern part of Korea.
Look here for more pictures of Bulguksa in winter : FLICKR.COM/K-MOOD