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Gyeongju offers historical Korea at its finest

More than 6 million tourists per year visit Gyeongju, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD); a vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain

More than 6 million tourists per year visit Gyeongju, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD); a vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain

Cheomseongdae is a 7th century astronomical observation tower; its simplistic form is misleading as there are many layers of complexity and knowledge incorporated in its design

Cheomseongdae is a 7th century astronomical observation tower; its simplistic form is misleading as there are many layers of complexity and knowledge incorporated in its design

Tumuli Park, right in the center of Gyeongju, is like an open-air museum with 25  grassy, regal, burial mounds; the city was the capital of the Silla Kingdom which ruled most of the Korean peninsula for 1000 years

Tumuli Park, right in the center of Gyeongju, is like an open-air museum with 25+ grassy, regal, burial mounds; the city was the capital of the Silla Kingdom which ruled most of the Korean peninsula for 1000 years

You seldom see English signage in South Korea so you have to rely on symbols like this king (or at least I thought it was a king!); luckily, the bathroom only had one other occupant and I let her leave before I sneaked out

You seldom see English signage in South Korea so you have to rely on symbols like this king (or at least I thought it was a king!); luckily, the bathroom only had one other occupant and I let her leave before I sneaked out

Gold and gilt bronze works worn by the ruler buried in the Cheonmachong tomb; it is the only such tomb in Korea you can actually enter and contains an impressive museum

Gold and gilt bronze works worn by the ruler buried in the Cheonmachong tomb; it is the only such tomb in Korea you can actually enter and contains an impressive museum

We really didn't have enough time in Gyeongju with just an afternoon available; the city has 31 National Treasures, and Gyeongju National Museum (closed on the day we were there) houses 16,333 artifacts

We really didn't have enough time in Gyeongju with just an afternoon available; the city has 31 National Treasures, and Gyeongju National Museum (closed on the day we were there) houses 16,333 artifacts

Green glazed roof tiles with monster masks were designed to repel evil spirits; Gyeongju was the 4th largest city in the world at the end of the first millennium

Green glazed roof tiles with monster masks were designed to repel evil spirits; Gyeongju was the 4th largest city in the world at the end of the first millennium

Wolji Pond had a carnival-like atmosphere with food trucks (corn dogs are popular) and tour buses; Gyeongju is sister cities with Pompeii and Versailles, among others

Wolji Pond had a carnival-like atmosphere with food trucks (corn dogs are popular) and tour buses; Gyeongju is sister cities with Pompeii and Versailles, among others

This mock-up shows how Donggung Palace looked when it was built in 674; it was then that King Munmu unified the Korean peninsula for the first time

This mock-up shows how Donggung Palace looked when it was built in 674; it was then that King Munmu unified the Korean peninsula for the first time

Gyeongju was surprisingly enjoyable; there are many historical sites within easy walking distance of each other

Gyeongju was surprisingly enjoyable; there are many historical sites within easy walking distance of each other

Many of Korea's leading families trace their roots back to Gyeongju and the Silla Dynasty; Gyeongju is the birthplace of Cheondoism, an indigenous religion to Korea based on Korean shamanism, Taoism and Korean Buddhism

Many of Korea's leading families trace their roots back to Gyeongju and the Silla Dynasty; Gyeongju is the birthplace of Cheondoism, an indigenous religion to Korea based on Korean shamanism, Taoism and Korean Buddhism

Wolji Pond is the most popular evening destination in Gyeongju for the beautiful lighting which creates photos perfect for Instagram; the city is 370 km southeast of Seoul

Wolji Pond is the most popular evening destination in Gyeongju for the beautiful lighting which creates photos perfect for Instagram; the city is 370 km southeast of Seoul

Wolseong Park features colossal burial mounds, some 22m high, the city of 265,000 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical significance

Wolseong Park features colossal burial mounds, some 22m high, the city of 265,000 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical significance

There are 35 royal tombs and 155 tumuli in central Gyeongju, and 421 tumuli in the outskirts of the city; a tumulus (tumuli is plural) is a burial mound

There are 35 royal tombs and 155 tumuli in central Gyeongju, and 421 tumuli in the outskirts of the city; a tumulus (tumuli is plural) is a burial mound

Gilt bronze statue of Buddha among the thousands of relics of the Silla Kingdom that were found when Wolji Pond was dredged; the city's population peaked at roughly a million in the 9th century

Gilt bronze statue of Buddha among the thousands of relics of the Silla Kingdom that were found when Wolji Pond was dredged; the city's population peaked at roughly a million in the 9th century

The area is known for barley bread which looks like 2 small pancakes with red bean paste inside; I was told it tasted okay

The area is known for barley bread which looks like 2 small pancakes with red bean paste inside; I was told it tasted okay

Bronze saddle used by 6th or 7th century king; Cheonmachong, the name of the tomb in which the saddle was found, actually means heavenly horse tomb

Bronze saddle used by 6th or 7th century king; Cheonmachong, the name of the tomb in which the saddle was found, actually means heavenly horse tomb

The red and blue symbol seen everywhere in Korea reminds me of the Pepsi logo; Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD)

The red and blue symbol seen everywhere in Korea reminds me of the Pepsi logo; Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD)

The crape myrtles were pruned like the pines; the tombs in Tumuli Park are scattered through what is now a pine forest

The crape myrtles were pruned like the pines; the tombs in Tumuli Park are scattered through what is now a pine forest

Several of the palace buildings of King Munmu have been reconstructed based on archaeological excavations; the lotus pond was designed by the king and is shaped to match that of his kingdom

Several of the palace buildings of King Munmu have been reconstructed based on archaeological excavations; the lotus pond was designed by the king and is shaped to match that of his kingdom

Posted by VagabondCowboy 21:48

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