Bunhwangsa Temple – 분황사 (Gyeongju)


The oldest pagoda in all of Korea, which just so happens to be at Bunhwangsa Temple

Hello Everyone!

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!

A look at the kilometre long field that you’ll have to pass to get to Bunhwangsa Temple.
The first look at the 1377 year old pagoda (the oldest pagoda in Korea)
One of the four corners of the beautiful pagoda.
Another ancient angle.
One more time.
A look inside the slightly ajar doors with the fierce guards protecting its entry from any evil spirits.
A little less open, but no less protected.
A look at one of the ancient lions.
This one has seen better days, and yet, it’s still as fierce as ever.
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The solitary worship hall at Bunhwangsa Temple with a view of the newly tidied courtyard.
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The rather large Buddha statue inside the worship hall.
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A painting of three Buddhas on the exterior of the worship hall.
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Another unique painting on the exterior of the worship hall.
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A faded painting depicting a court on the exterior of the worship hall at the temple.
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The temple’s university for monks at Bunhwangsa Temple.
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A faceless sculpture of a Buddha beside the temple’s university and behind the worship hall at the temple.
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And a newer looking sculpture of Buddhas in the main courtyard at the temple.
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Some beautiful irises were in bloom when we visited.
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 The restored bell pavilion with father and son paying 1,000 Won to bring the temple’s bell.
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An extremely unique wooden drum at Bunhwangsa Temple.
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A better look at the drum’s grotesque features.

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