The full day was dedicated to the historical sites in Gyeongju. Gyeongju is the capitol location for the Silla dynasty so with our tours we learned about the history of the region and in Korea in general. We went to a variety of places such as an ancient tomb, an observatory, the location was the royal palace was, some royal bridges, and some highly important Buddhist temples. With each location, I was able to learn and understand the historical past from an outsider’s view.
The first place we saw was an ancient tomb made between 4th-6th century. These tombs were built for royal families and possibly their significant other. These pyramid-like tombs were quite different than what I had ever seen before. For instance, externally, the tombs looked like hill but on the inside were several layers. From the exterior to the body the layers were several slabs of soil for the grass to grow, an inner core of stones and then finally a wooden box with the tomb inside. Interesting enough, the tour guide mentioned that the royal member could kill their servants and place them in the tomb with them so that they will go into the afterlife together. After the 6th century though they stopped killing servants as the country was introduced to Buddhism. Beyond the tombs, we saw a lot of national historical sites and relics that were found in the 1970s. During that time the Korea government decided to open up tombs and preserved locations to find all the relics and to learn more about the Korean history.
We also visited two renounce Buddhist temples on the 12th of May. This is important because it was the official start of Buddha’s birthday celebration. So, the temples were vibrant and full of travelers. It was quite interesting to learn about how Buddhism is related to the shaping of Korea.