Gyeongju is best known for having been the capital of the Silla dynasty, and because of this, it might be one of the most interesting places to tour in the country. It is absolutely full of history and interesting things to see at every turn, starting with the burial mounds.
After a long day of walking, we returned to our motel to see another ancient site: a well stocked VHS library and our very own VHS player!
Sunday was reserved for the biggest draw to Gyeongju- the UNESCO designated world heritage site, Bulguksa temple. It was the center of Buddhism during the Silla dynasty, but was burnt down by the Japanese and had to be restored.
The restoration was remarkable though, and it is one of the biggest and most beautiful temples in the country.
Unfortunately, this meant it was crawling with tourists. Not that I can blame them- after all, we were there too. Though the copious amount of vendors selling corn dogs and plastic dung-on-a-stick toys on the surrounding temple lawns did damper the serenity a bit. It was amazing to be in such a heavily populated place after the relative calm of cultural sites in Andong. Though inside all of the temple buildings, a natural reverence was maintained- especially in one large central structure referred to as the "Hall of Whispers." Shoes off, no cameras, and total silence. Even in a place crawling with noisy people, there were ways to find a soothing sense of harmony.
The view from the top of the grotto was extraordinary.