A trip to Gyeongju, the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Silla, would certainly not be complete without a visit to the city’s historical landmarks. Many schoolchildren in Korea will take a trip to this ancient capital, where Korean history has been well-preserved and you can still see remnants of the Silla kingdom’s lavish lifestyle and after-life.
After our trip to the Daereungwon Tomb Complex, it was a short walk over to the Cheomseongdae Observatory, which was in the same demarcated Gyeongju Historic Area.
Cheomseongdae Observatory, constructed during the reign of Queen Seondeok (r. 632-647), is one of the landmarks of Gyeongju. The observatory was built in a cylinder shape at approximately 9 meters in height. The observatory consists of 365 stones, symbolizing the number of days in a year. The rocks are piled in 27 layers symbolizing the 27th ruler, Queen Seondeok, and the days in a lunar month by adding the of two rock layers on top.
We appreciated the fact that there was an English guide, considering that none of us were well-versed in Korean history and were visiting without a tour guide.
At first glance, it is easy to find the Observatory rather, well, unassuming. However, consider that this is the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in Asia, and possibly even the world – and that astronomy was highly regarded and tightly linked to many political and religious issues back in the Silla dynasty. It then impresses upon you that this monument, that has survived the test of time over more than a thousand years, is truly a miracle worth marvelling at.
You can see the Daereungwon Tomb Complex in the distance – each mount represents the resting place of one royalty.
If you’re thinking that it’s not worth the time and effort to walk here to see the Cheomseongdae Observatory, you’ll be happy to be proven wrong! Many locals not only visit this historical landmark to learn more about history, but also to bask in the flower fields nearby!
In autumn, this area is commonly known as the Pink Muhly fields; however, in spring, these fields transform to a beautiful sea of red poppies:
This was also the filming site for Dong-Yi (starring Han Hyo-joo)!
Other than red poppies, other flowers were also in full bloom, which made this a lovely photoshoot opportunity:
This spot has also been marked out as a photo spot, as the filming location of K-drama Queen Seondeok.
Personally, I really enjoyed walking along the flower fields after visiting Cheomseongdae Observatory, especially while embracing the cool spring breeze. Plus points for it being near Daereungwon Tomb Complex, so there’s really no reason not to take the short walk over and get a feel of how it was like to live life in the Silla Kingdom.
Address: 839-1 Inwang-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea[Train]
From Seoul Station, take a train to Singyeongju station or Gyeongju Station.
From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal.
From Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal or Gyeongju Station, take Bus No. 10, 11, 60, 600, or 700 and get off at Silla Hoegwan or Wolseong-dong Community Center Bus Stop.
From Singyeongju Station, take Bus No. 60, 61 or 700 and get off at Wolseong-dong Community Center Bus Stop.