Gyeongju is the ancient capital of what was once the Silla Kingdom. This makes the city more than 2,000 years old. Gyeongju is an incredible destination that boasts a number of temples and cultural festivals. Start your trip at the Bulguksa Temple, a true masterpiece of Buddhist religion and art that dates back to the 8th century. Then, hike up from the temple to the Seokguram Grotto for even more Buddhist culture and artifacts.
Gyeongju is a coastal city in the far southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang Province in South Korea. It is the second-largest city by area in the province after Andong, covering 1,324 km2 (511 sq mi) with a population of 264,091 people (as of December 2012.) Gyeongju is 370 km (230 mi) southeast of Seoul, and 55 km (34 mi) east of Daegu. The city borders Cheongdo and Yeongcheon to the west, Ulsan to the south, and Pohang to the north, while to the east lies the coast of the Sea of Japan. Numerous low mountains—outliers of the Taebaek range—are scattered around the city
Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD), which ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula at its height between the 7th and 9th centuries, for close to one thousand years. Later Silla was a prosperous and wealthy country, and its metropolitan capital of Gyeongju was the fourth largest city in the world.
A vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain in the city. Gyeongju is often referred to as "the museum without walls". Among such historical treasures, Seokguram grotto, Bulguksa temple, Gyeongju Historic Areas, and Yangdong Folk Village are designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The many major historical sites have helped Gyeongju become one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Korea.
The city of Gyeongju was united with the nearby rural Gyeongju County in 1995 and is now an urban-rural complex. It is similar to 53 other small and medium-sized cities with a population under 300,000 people in South Korea. As well as its rich historical heritage, Gyeongju today is affected by the economic, demographic, and social trends that have shaped modern South Korean culture. Tourism remains the major economic driver, but manufacturing activities have developed due to its proximity to major industrial centers such as Ulsan and Pohang. Gyeongju is connected to the nationwide rail and highway networks, which facilitate industrial and tourist traffic.
The cuisine of Gyeongju is generally similar to other areas of Gyeongsang province: spicy and salty. However, it has distinctive tastes according to the region and several local specialties are known nationwide. The most famous of these is "Gyeongju bread" or "Hwangnam bread", a red-bean pastry first baked in 1939 and now sold throughout the country.
Chalboribbang, made with locally produced glutinous barley, is also a pastry with a filling of red bean paste.
Local specialties with a somewhat longer pedigree include beopju, a traditional Korean liquor produced by the Gyeongju Choe in Gyo-dong. The brewing skill and distill master were designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties by South Korea government
Don’t miss the Covered Market, a collection of vendors selling everything from Silla souvenirs to freshly made Korean delicacies.