At various times in history Korea was divided into smaller kingdoms, one of which was Silla. The dynasty can be broken down into Silla (57 BCE – 667 CE) and Unified Silla (668 CE – 935 CE) after it had grown by conquering neighboring kingdoms. Silla was a kingdom of wealth and gold, trade and cultural exchange. It had a ‘golden age’ both literally and figuratively, and fortunately for us they left many things behind for us to marvel at, as well as the tombs themselves.
The tumuli, or tombs, in the Gyeongju area number about 200 with 23 being easily accessible in the Daereungwon Tumuli Complex.
The whole complex is beautiful, with impeccable landscaping and maintenance.
We visited in early Fall, although many people suggest Spring to be the best season.
The mounds come in all sizes and were made for Kings, their families and perhaps favored court officials.
Some of the occupants are known while many are unknown. The most famous of the tombs perhaps is the Cheonmachong Tomb, also known as the ‘tomb of the heavenly horse’. It was excavated in 1973 and over 11,000 artifacts were discovered. Usually it is open to the public, but it was undergoing extensive restoration while we were there so we were unable to see it behind the fence and scaffolding. Many of the tomb treasures from all the excavated tombs are on display at the Gyeongju branch of the National Museum of Korea.
More than 50,000objects were discovered in Hwangnamdaechong alone.
As with many sites in Korea there has been restoration and repair from damage from occupation and war. This has sometime left pieces left over, or pieces waiting to be reconstructed. At a few sites we saw pieces of masonry that were collected together in one place….just waiting.
This map helps to understand the positions of the tumuli in relationship to each other.
By the time we had finished walking around dusk was falling and the atmosphere reminded me of the descriptions of the barrows in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Needless to say we didn’t hang around to see if any barrow wrights would appear.
Have a great day everyone.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth Marzec.
You may also enjoy reading Wolji Pond At Night: In Photos, Gyeongju: Why You Should Visit On Your Next Trip To Korea, and Beolcho: A Korean Tradition Of Maintaining Ancestral Grave Mounds.
You always post such beautiful locations/photos of S. Korea. It’s funny – I was talking to the lady who always does my nails. She’s travels back home to China every year and sometimes takes side trips to other Asian countries. S. Korea is her least favorite. She claims it is boring… I guess everyone has their own preferences. Granted, she seems to have only visited Seoul and from what I’ve learned from my travels, the main city is still great to visit but there’s so much more to see outside the main city. And it’s up to personal preference. I suppose if you just want to eat and shop, you’ll want to find a city that is great for just that alone. I’m not a shopper. I like to browse a little but I’m more about history, scenery and especially food! Not fancy-fine dining food but local and authentic food! Nom nom nom…
Thank you. I haven’t traveled much in Asia so I can’t compare countries, however I think Korea has far more to offer than what the average tourist sees. Plus as you say major cities are not representative of what a country really has to offer. Seeing London would not give you much of a view of what the rest of England is really like. What if everyone judged the US by one place like New York? I’m not much of a shopper either, I prefer culture, history, food, nature etc and Korea has high scores in each of those. I hope you get to go there and at least get to have your own opinion. (PS. I get into trouble because I don’t think Paris is all that great when compared to other places. Sure I enjoyed it but not top of my list.) Have a great day.
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