I am tired tonight, but wanted to share some pictures from my day-long tour of Gyeong-ju, the ancient preserved city commonly called the “museum without walls”.  It served as the capital city for the Silla kingdom from 57 BC – 935 AD, and was miraculously spared during the Korean War so it is largely intact or reconstructed and holds many of Korea’s national treasures.

Our first stop was Bulguksa Temple, established in 528 AD, which holds Korea’s National Treasures No. 20-23, 26, 27, and 61.  #26 and 27 are two of the many enormous golden Buddhas that I was not allowed to capture on film due to photo restrictions; you’ll have to imagine those or click here for an example.

 

 

 

This garden of stacked stones struck my fancy.

 

An extremely pedestrian photograph of National Treasures 20 and 21 (the pagodas).

I loved this turtle’s smile – or was it a grimace? – holding up the enormous load on its back.

In one of the temples we noticed everyone was looking up, at what turned out to be a bird’s nest snugged in amongst the eaves.

Next stop was the Folk Village, which unfortunately had to serve as lunchtime for us as one wasn’t built into the tour.  We did get to do a little bit of shopping at the many pottery shops connected to the Folk Village.  Everybody else bought a little something, but I only came away with this picture of some miniature earthen animal totems.  I like Snake best.

The sun burned off the clouds in time for our next stop, Cheonmachong tumulus, one of a manmade mini-mountain range of earthen tombs dating back about 1300-1500 years, to the heyday of the Silla dynasty.

And lastly, a far-too-quick stop (40 minutes) at the National Museum; we really only had time to walk around the grounds.

All in all it was an interesting day if a bit rushed from site to site.  My four colleagues and I echoed each other all day long: “I bet this would be really beautiful in the spring or fall…”  While it had its own stark beauty in the late winter, it sure would be a different group of pictures if the cherry blossoms were in bloom.  I’m hopeful that this week’s budding extravaganza means that I’ll see some blossomry before I head back to the States.  Fingers crossed!

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