Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Remains – 황룡사지 (Gyeongju)

A look at the temple remains of Hwangnyong-saji in Gyeongju.

Hello Everyone,

Continuing with postings about Gyeongju, today’s temple is Hwangnyong-saji Temple remains  (황룡사지).  Unlike most temples that will be posted on this blog, Hwangyong-saji are the remains of a temple.  Following our geographic walk through downtown Gyeongju, you’ll come across these remains.

After wandering the downtown area of historical Gyeongju, passing such sights as Tumulus Park, Cheomseongdae, Wolsang Park, Anapji, and the Gyeongju National Museum, you can come across the remains of Hwanngnyong-saji Temple.  Walking east of the Gyeongju National Museum, towards a seemingly vacant farmer’s field, is Hwangyong-saji Temple remains. Cross over the railroad tracks and follow the path through the field; here, you’ll see the six metre high, three tiered, stone pagoda that rises out of a rice paddy.  Originally, the pagoda dates back to the 9th century, but was resurrected in 1980.  Where the pagoda stands is the former site of Mitansa.  Just north of this pagoda is the site of the largest temple of the Silla dynasty: Hwangyong-saji (“The Imperial Dragon Temple”).

From a mound in the middle of this compound, you’ll be able to see massive cornerstones to the former temple buildings.  From this vantage point you will also be able to tell that the former temple grounds were extensive and that the temple buildings were numerous. The temple was constructed in 553.  In fact, there was a bell four times the size of the famous Emille Bell at the Gyeongju National Museum.  Also, there was a nine-story pagoda in the temple courtyard that reached 70 metres in height! In total, this pagoda was destroyed five times over six centuries.  But finally, in 1238, during the Mongol invasions, it was burnt to the ground never to be rebuilt again.  Presently, there are 64 massive foundation stones on the lawn to indicate and highlight just how magnificent this temple formerly was.  Additionally, there are a tall pair of flagpole supports that stand on the northern side of the field.  From these flagpoles it isn’t much further to Bunhwangsa; probably, only a two minute walk.  So if you’re going to one, you might as well go to the other. If you’ve packed a lunch, like some of the other Koreans during lunch time; it’s a nice little picnic area, or even a nice place to rest for a few minutes.

Admission is free to the field.

OVERALL RATING: 2.5/10.  Because it’s more of an after-thought than it is the main reason you’re visiting Gyeongju, it rates so low.  Because there are only remains, and not really a temple per se, it rates so low, as well.  However, because it’s so close in proximity to everything else, and makes for a nice little mid-day break from your adventures, this historical site is worth seeing.  Also, it is a rare insight into the brutality of Korea’s past.  For all these reasons, Hwangyong-saji may not be at the top of your list for places to see in Gyeongju, but it should at least be on your list.

A view of the field that houses the remains of the temple with elevated earth highlighting where the former buildings stood.
A picture of two bases of destroyed pagodas at Hwangyong-saji Temple.
The elevated outline of Mok Tap Ji at Hwangnyong-saji Temple.
A better look at the remains at Mok Tap Ji.
More remains at Hwangyong-saji Temple.  This time, the remains are from the elevated earthly remains from Geum Dang Ji.
A better look at the remains at Geum Dang Ji.
One final look at Hwangnyong-saji Temple, and the sprawling remains of the former temple spread out throughout a field.

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