Continuing with our tour of Gyeongju, I’ve included a posting on Bunhwangsa Temple (분황사). Bunhwangsa Temple has the oldest pagoda in all of Korea, so enjoy!
In total, I’ve visited Gyeongju probably about six times, and of those six, I’ve visited Bunhwangsa Temple three times. Depending on how much time you have, how much energy you still have after walking all day, and how late you’re running in the day if you still want to visit Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Hermitage, you should visit Bunhwangsa Temple.
Bunhwangsa Temple (“Famous Emperor Temple”) is probably best known for its brick pagoda. Once one of the four most famous temples in the early Silla Dynasty, Bunhwangsa Temple is a lot smaller and in important in scope in present day Korea. The aforementioned brick pagoda at Bunhwangsa Temple is the oldest pagoda in all of Korea dating from 634. Originally, the pagoda was nine stories high; however, the pagoda only has three in the present day. At the base of the pagoda chamber openings, with doors that are slightly ajar, are the fiercely protective stone figures. Also, there are lions adorning the base of the pagoda. There is only one worship hall at this temple with an out of place, supersized, Buddha. There are future plans to expand the Bunhwangsa Temple grounds and return the temple to its past glory during the Silla Dynasty.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Buhwangsa Temple, you should walk down a country road that starts at the Gyeongju National Museum. The country road runs along a field. This field is the former temple grounds for Hwangnyong-saji. Cross over the railway tracks along this road and proceed for about a kilometer.
Also, if you don’t want to see Tumulus Park, Anapji, and the Gyeongju National Museum, and you simply want to go directly from the intercity bus terminal, you can catch a bus from the opposite side of Gyeongju Bus Terminal: take Bus #10 (15 minute interval), #11 (11 minute interval), #15 (3 times a day), #17 (6:20 am, only once a day), #18 (9 times a day), #277 (9 times a day) to get off at Bunhwangsa Temple (15 min ride). Also, you can take a 10 minute taxi ride from the bus station.
Admission for adults is 1,300 Won. And it’s open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m (except in winter when it’s open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
OVERALL RATING: 7/10. This temple, simply for possessing the oldest pagoda in all of Korea rates a 7 out of 10. Honestly, this pagoda is amazing, not only because it’s so old, but because it’s so beautiful, as well. However, there is very little else to this temple besides this pagoda. Let’s hope that the future temple additions will be as breath-taking as the historical pagoda!