Greatness in Gyeongju

The ancient Silla capitol, now known as Gyeongju, is a breathtaking site in Korea. Preserved well through government ordinances, the low roof architecture of the city transports you back in time to a period of ancient wonders like the Cheomseongdae observatory tower and the Bulguska Buddhist Temple. Other fascinating sites in Gyeongju included Cheonmachong and the Woljeonggyo Bridge. The Cheomseongdae observatory was a moving cultural site to visit because this tower is a crucial aspect of Korean history. Koreans view this tower as a start in innovation and pursuit of knowledge, as this structure proudly stands as the oldest observatory in Asia. The Bulguska Buddhist Temple was an amazing opportunity to gain insight into a faith that comprises about a quarter of Korea’s population. I have had the privilege of being in Korea during a time of celebration, Buddha’s birthday, wherein many Koreans flock to Temples across the country to honor their beliefs. It was inspirational to witness the dedication of the Buddhist Korean people in practicing their faith. Also, Cheonmachong was a novel site in Korea as these grass mound structures served as tombs for the wealthy and royalty during the Silla time period. Notably, the influence of Buddhism during Silla was seen in these tombs through the abundance of gold these figures were buried with. Depictions of status were highly valued during Silla through the colors of clothes and size of residences. This was part of what was known as the bone rank system where the king and queen of society were referred to as top “gol” or high ranking individuals. Regional leaders were referred to as “du” for having a slightly lower ranking, and all others in society did not possess titles. Another structure reflecting status during Silla was the Woljeonggyo Bridge, which only the noble people could cross in society. Thus, the lavish lifestyle of the ancient nobility reflected both the hierarchical society and influence of state leaders during the Silla dynasty. Through a long and trying history, Korea has implemented a democratic system in society, but still takes pride in the previous forms of governance that have promoted this political change with the preservation of these beautiful sites.

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