GYEONGJU TOUR: THE KINGDOM OF SHILLA

Date: 
Saturday, April 27, 2013 - 8:30am to Sunday, April 28, 2013 - 7:30pm
Destination(s): 
Gyeongju in Gyeongsang Province
Cost: 
W238,000 for members and for non-members W285,600
Tour Leader: 
David A. Mason

The Gyeongsang Provinces are rich in historical sites for virtually every period of Korean History. Known as Korea's "museum without walls," Gyeongju was selected by UNESCO as one of the world's ten most important ancient cultural cities. This area holds a wealth of legends, art, and ancient remains, and quickly became known as a "must-see" stop in Korea to historians and tourists world wide. It attracts more than five millions visitors each year.

We will depart from Yongsan Post Office at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, for Gyeongju by bus, where we will first stop at the Tomb of General Kim Yushin, located on the outskirts of the city General Kim is a famous and highly revered Shilla leader who was instrumental in unifying the peninsula. His tomb is even more sophisticated than those of some royalty are, and the carvings on his tomb are the finest zodiac figures in the region. We will then continue on to Gyeongju City for most of Saturday afternoon. Our tour will include these sites:

Anap-ji (Wild Geese and Duck Pond) Detached Palace and Pond - designated as Historical Site No. 18, this was constructed in 674 by King Munmu to commemorate the unification of the peninsula by Shilla forces. In 1975-76 it underwent restoration and over 30,000 items were taken from the pond's mud bottom.

Afterwards, we will stop by the Gyeongju National Museum, the largest in Korea after the National Museum in Seoul, containing the best collection of Shilla Dynasty artifacts. After visiting the museum we will have lunch before visiting our last stop.

Cheomsongdae (Star Observation Tower) - This unique bottle-shaped structure, one of the oldest structures in Korea, is thought to be the oldest astronomical observatory in all of Asia and was erected during the reign of Queen Sondok (632-647).

Hwangnyong-saji (The Imperial Dragon Temple) - north of Bunhwang-sa is the site of one of the largest and greatest sôn meditation temple. The nine story pagoda in the temple courtyard rose 70 meters. The only remnants to indicate its monstrous size are 64 massive foundation stones.

Bunhwang-sa (Famous Emperor Temple) - is still an active place of worship and was once one of the four most famous temples of the early Shilla Dynasty. The remnants of the pagoda (the oldest datable pagoda in the country) erected in 634 during the reign of Queen Sondok marks a period of great social, spiritual and creative energy.

Chonmachong (Heavenly Horse Tomb) - The most well known tomb, and the one that yielded the most treasure during excavations. Presumed to be from the late 5th or early 6th century, it was excavated in 1973, and over 12,000 artifacts were found. After enjoying a delicious dinner at a nearby restaurant, we will take a 20 minute bus ride to a scenic circuit around Bomun Lake. This tranquil reservoir is one of Gyeongju's most popular tourist sights, surrounded by cherry trees. There are full blooms at this time of the year.

On Sunday after early morning breakfast, we will go to the Sokkuram Grotto (National Treasure No. 24) to see the sun come up over the East Sea and to view the Great Buddha who meditates above Korea's east coast. This grotto was made to appear as part of the natural hillside and is set below the peak of the mountain to catch the first light of the morning sun as it rises out of the sea. Sokkuram is a masterpiece of Buddhist art, and as a religious work of art, it is unsurpassed by any other in Korea.

From here, we will drive down Toham-san on a beautiful cherry tree-lined scenic path to Bulguk-sa (Buddhist Country Temple). First built about 1,450 years ago by King Pophung, who was the first Shilla king to adopt Buddhism, it was rebuilt and destroyed several times. It was restored again in 1972 and designated as Scenic Spot No. 1. On the premises are 6 National Treasures and one treasure. In its heyday the temple had 80 wooden buildings, 10 times as many as today. It is one of Korea's most popular temples. After visiting Bulguk-sa, we’ll be off to the Gyeongju Folk Handicraft Village, where traditional handicrafts are made and sold.

Then we will visit Shilla Arts and Science Museum which is a nice museum to see and learn about the building process of Sokkuram Grotto.

Posok-jong (Abalone Stone Pavilion) - Located in a peaceful grove of trees on the Namsan side of Gyeongju, it has been designated as Historical Site No. 1. It was once a large royal pleasure garden and banquet hall, of which remains now a granite water course through which water was routed from a nearby stream.

David A. Mason is a Professor of Korean Cultural Tourism at Gyeongju University, and researcher on the religious characteristics of Korea's mountains. A native citizen of the United States, of Michigan, he has been living in South Korea for 29 years now, always following his passionate interest in visiting historic spiritual sites. He serves as the Honorary ambassador of the Baekdu-daegan Mountain Range, and is a frequent tour-guide. He earned a Masters' Degree in the History of Korean Religions from Yonsei University, and has authored and edited nine books on Korean culture and tourism. His popular website on sacred Korean mountains and mountain-spirits can be found at www.san-shin.org

Tour members are reminded that they should expect some walking on this tour and should wear comfortable shoes. Also, you may want to bring a packed lunch for Saturday trip down, but you can also purchase food at a highway rest stop on the way down. Departure will be on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. from Yongsan Post Office (Subway Line #4 or Blue line, Shinyongsan Station #429, Exit #1). Return to Seoul is scheduled for around 7:30 pm on Sunday.

Cost of the tour is W238,000 for members and for non-members W285,600 and includes transportation, accommodation, all entrance fees and 3 meals (Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast and lunch).

FIRST COME FIRST SERVED. SPACE IS LIMITED.

To sign up, please copy and paste below and send email to royalasiatickorea@gmail.com. We will send you a confirmation via text and email prior to the trip.

Email heading: RSVP: APRIL 27-28, GYEONGJU

PLEASE RESERVE SPACE ON THE GYEONGJU TOUR: THE KINGDOM OF SHILLA, SATURDAY- SUNDAY, APRIL 27-28, 2013, FOR THE FOLLOWING:

NAME_____________________________ MEMBER________ NONMEMBER_________

NAME_____________________________ MEMBER________ NON-MEMBER_________

PHONE NO. (MOBILE) ___________________ (OFFICE / HOME) ____________________

Please make a tour payment to the following account: Shinhan Bank Account # 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB)

Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
왕립아세아학회한국지부
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is open Monday through Friday from 10 to 5 but we are short staffed and there are meetings elsewhere often: please call or email before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796
Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

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