Probably the most popular region to visit outside of Seoul is the Kyongju valley. Geographically, Kyongju is located between Taegu and Pusan along the route of the Seoul-Pusan Expressway in Southeast Korea.
Kyongju is the cradle of early Shilla culture and site of the kingdom’s capital (57 A.D. 935) for almost 1000 years. The Unified Shilla period (668 – 935) carried Korean culture, arts and learning to unprecedented heights and today historians refer to this era as Korea’s “Golden Age.”
Royal tombs, temple sites with weathered stone pagoda and Buddhist images, as well as fortress ruins, are scattered within the vicinity of this ancient capital. Many of Korea’s most unique sculptured art objects of Korea’s early Buddhist heritage can be found well off the beaten trails.
Today Kyongju is called Korea’s “Culture City” or Museum without Walls.” Kyongju City, with a population of 100,000, still maintains the traditional Korean architectural style of housing, which is hard to find in other regions of the country. Farmers work in the fields where stone remains from temple sites are scattered all around.
Kyongju was selected as one of the 10 most important ancient historic sites throughout the entire world. A large-scale cultural survey was undertaken as part of UNESCO’s preservation program for these 10 sites. Historians now realize that during the eight century Kyongju was the fourth largest city in the world with a population of over 1 million. Distant foreign visitors, including Arab and Indian merchants, were attracted by Kyongju’s reputation of being a “Golden City.”
All of the houses within the city walls were roofed with tile as far as the eye could see. The magnitude of Shilla’s attainment in culture and learning for two and a half centuries.