Registered in November 2000 as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, the Gyeongju Historic Area represents the honorable history & culture of the ancient capital in the Silla Kingdom. It can be divided into 5 major sections with a total of 52 designated cultural assets. The Wolseong Area (월성), one of the former palace sites of the Silla Kingdom, is within a convenient 10-min walk from Lucky Won Guest House where we were staying for the night. Thus, that was our first stop in Gyeongju-si after a short rest at the guest house.
Gyeongju Gyerim Forest (경주 계림, Historic Site No. 19), a forest associated with myths of Alji’s birth – the founder of the Gyeongju Kim clan; Imhaejeonji (임해전지, Historic Site No. 18), the crown prince’s palace; & Cheomseongdae (첨성대, National Treasure No. 31), the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia, can all be found in this area. From Lucky Won, we arrived at Gyerim & Cheomseongdae first as they are located very near to the main street. Gyerim is located between Wolseong Fortress & Cheomseongdae in Gyeongju National Park. It is free admission for both sites, but Gyerim is opened till 6pm only, while Cheomseongdae is opened till 10pm in summer, & 9pm in winter. As we only arrived there in the evening, we only managed to check out the observatory, but it was already good enough. Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure.
Next, it was time to head to the magnificent Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond (경주 동궁 과 월지, 안압지), the site of the Silla Royal Palace. I can’t remember how long the walk took from the observatory, probably 20 min or so. But it definitely didn’t feel like a long dreary walk because we were busy admiring the wonderful cherry blossoms & archaeological sites along the way. No wonder they say Gyeongju-si is the museum without walls!
As it was a Saturday night during the popular Spring cherry blossom season, the Donggung Palace ticket booth was very crowded with long queues of visitors. Fortunately the queue moved quite fast so within 10 min, we got hold of the admission tickets (KRW2,000 / S$2.40 per adult). Without further ado, here are selected photos of the stunning historic site!
The remarkable architecture on site is lit up at night, creating enchanting reflections on the artificial Wolji Pond (used to be called Anapji Pond) situated at the northeast edge of the Banwolseong palace site. Because everyone wants to catch a glimpse of this awesome sight, it was so packed with visitors that night, until we didn’t really need to walk as we were constantly being pushed along the paths.😛 But we weren’t frustrated at all because the place was just too amazingly beautiful, & I guess everyone else had similar feelings too.
I totally agree to the view made by most travellers who had been here, that Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond is definitely an attraction not to be missed, especially at night. What a marvellous way to end our long but sweet tour from Andong to Gyeongju!