Gyeongju Historic Areas
Gyeongju Historic Areas
Cultural Republic Of Korea Asia And The Pacific Gyeongju City, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province

The Gyeongju Historic Areas contain a remarkable concentration of outstanding examples of Korean Buddhist art, in the form of sculptures, reliefs, pagodas, and the remains of temples and palaces from the flowering, in particular between the 7th and 10th centuries, of this unique form of artistic expression. The Korean peninsula was ruled for almost 1,000 years by the Silla dynasty, and the sites and monuments in and around Gyeongju bear outstanding testimony to its cultural achievements. These monuments are of exceptional significance in the development of Buddhist and secular architecture in Korea.

There has been human settlement at and around the site of the present-day town of Gyeongju from the prehistoric period. The Silla clan became the rulers of the south-eastern part of the peninsula in 57 BCE. They chose Gyeongju as their capital. There followed a long period of internal struggles between rival kingdoms. With the help of the Tang dynasty in China, the Silla kingdom defeated its rivals in the 7th century and established its rule over most of the peninsula;this remained unchallenged until the beginning of the 10th century. The Silla rulers embellished their city with many public buildings, palaces, temples, and fortresses. Their tombs are to be found in the surroundings of the ancient city. Mahayana Buddhism spread from China into Korea during the course of the 7th century and was adopted by the Silla Kingdom. Mount Namsan, which had been venerated by the existing cults of Korea, became a Buddhist sacred mountain and attracted its adherents, who employed the most outstanding architects and craftsmen of the day to create temples, shrines, and monasteries. With the end of the Silla Kingdom, Korea underwent a further period of internal strife. It was unified again under Korean rule by the Joseon dynasty, which reigned until 1910. However, the country was invaded and devastated by the Japanese in the late 16th century and the Manchu in the 18th century, before being annexed by Japan in 1910. Throughout this long period, Gyeongju has maintained its urban identity, although many of its major buildings have suffered degradation and demolition.

There are three major components ('belts') that make up the Gyeongju Historic Areas;in addition, the World Heritage site covers Hwangnyongsa and the Sanseong Fortress.
Mount Namsan Belt lies to the north of Gyeongju City: there is a large number of prehistoric and historic remains within the designated area.

Wolseong Belt, in which the main monuments are the ruined palace site of Wolseong, the Gyerim woodland which legend identifies as the birthplace of the founder of the Gyeongju Kim clan, Anapji Pond, on the site of the ruined Imhaejeon Palace, and the Cheomseongdae Observatory.

Tumuli Park Belt, which consists of three groups of royal tombs. Most of the mounds are domed, but some take the form of a half-moon or a gourd. They contain double wooden coffins covered with gravel. Excavations have produced rich grave-goods of gold, glass and fine ceramics. One of the earlier tombs yielded a mural painting on birch bark of a winged horse.