Today I’m going to tell you a short story about the oldest astronomical observatory in Asia, built during the Silla Kingdom, in the 7th century. It’s called Cheomseongdae, and was designated as one of the country’s national treasures in 1962. Located in Gyeongju, the former capital of the Silla Kingdom, the observatory was constructed during the reign of Queen Seondeok(632-647). While I was staying in Korea, I had the chance to visit this magnificent place together with my friends, and learn more about the history of the kingdom. I was extremely surprised to find out that its original shape and design remained unchanged for more than 1300 years. Visiting this place was a wholesome experience since I had the opportunity to discover more interesting facts related to the history of Korea, and make new friends as well. In addition, I was delighted to see that next to the observatory there is a lovely pond, full of lotus flowers and various kinds of plants. Below you can see one of the best shots taken during the trip:
Gyeongju, the golden city
Did you know that Gyeongju was called “Seorabeol” in the past? Or did you know that this place is the hometown of the great spirits of Hwarang? Located in Gyeongsangbuk-do, close to Pohang and Yeongcheon, Gyeongju is famous for its Buddhist temples ,royal tombs, picturesque landscapes and hwangnam bread(filled with honey and red bean paste). If you are in Korea, don’t miss the chance to visit this wonderful city. Gyeongju has 31 national treasures, so if you are interested in the history of the Silla Kingdom or in the Buddhist art, this city is the right place for you. For more information related to its geographical location, symbols or tourist attractions, you can check out the official website right here.
Now back to Cheomseongdae. According to the experts, the structure of Cheomseongdae indicates certain astronomical and historical dates. For example, it is said that the body of the tower was made using 365 pieces of stone, representing the days in a year. The observatory is not just a very old construction in Gyeongju, but a very important cultural landmark that helps us to understand how technologically advanced the people living in that era were . However, why was the observatory so important in the Silla kingdom? Well, since agriculture and farming were regarded as the principal activities in ancient times, people needed to analyse and predict astronomical events because those phenomena deeply influenced the crops. Moreover, observing the stars was also crucial when making political decisions.
How to get to Gyeongju?
If you live in Seoul, you can take the train from Seoul Station to Gyeongju. Operated by Korail, the trains are a good choice when comes to comfort and safety, and it usually takes 3~4 hours to arrive at the destination, depending on which option you choose. You can buy train tickets to Gyeongju starting at $17-18. Also, you can take the bus or drive your own car if you want to explore other places as well. Once you get to Gyeongju, walking to Cheomseongdae could be the best way to exercise a little after a long ride while admiring the city’s beautiful parks. However, if you feel to exhausted to walk, you can always take a bus or a taxi to the observatory. For more information, you can visit this website.
What else can you visit in Gyeongju?
This city could be the right choice for the people who love spending time in nature, far from crowded places and for those want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a big city. Beautiful parks, ponds, good food, Buddhist art…you have everything in one place. There are lots of things you can do in Gyeongju. For example, visit:
- Donggung Palace. The night view is just mesmerizing.
- Gyeongju National Museum. Here you can see numerous artifacts and Buddhist works of art.
- Bulguksa Temple. Maybe one of the most famous places in Korea.
- The royal Tomb of King Taejong
- Seongdong Market
- Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park
- Yangdong Folk Village
- Seokkuram Grotto. Get ready for a long climb.
- Namsan Mountain
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