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Gyeongju Hwangnyongsa Temple Site (경주 황룡사지)

  • Gyeongju Hwangnyongsa Temple Site (경주 황룡사지)
  • Gyeongju Hwangnyongsa Temple Site (경주 황룡사지)
  • Gyeongju Hwangnyongsa Temple Site (경주 황룡사지)
  • Gyeongju Hwangnyongsa Temple Site (경주 황룡사지)
  • Gyeongju Hwangnyongsa Temple Site (경주 황룡사지)
  • Gyeongju Hwangnyongsa Temple Site (경주 황룡사지)
  • Address 64-19, Imhae-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    경상북도 경주시 임해로 64-19 (구황동)
  • Type Temples/ Religious Sites
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    Hwangnyongsa Temple Site is located in front of Bunhwangsa Temple in Guhang-dong, Gyeongju. During the Silla Era, the Hwangnyongsa Temple was the nation’s largest temple and housed the bulk of the country’s major Buddhist treasures.

    Construction of the temple began in 553 on a field east of the royal compound under the commission of King Jinheung. The king originally planned to build a palace, but decided to build a temple instead, after receiving reports that a yellow dragon had been spotted on the building site. The temple was thus named Hwangnyongsa (Temple of Yellow Dragon) and was completed in 569, seventeen years after construction began. The temple murals featured an old pine tree drawn by Artist Solgeo. During the Silla Era, the temple was the center of state-sanctioned Buddhism.

    Later, when monk Jajang was studying in China during the Tang dynasty, he came across a god as he was passing by Taihe Pond. The god said to him, “The yellow dragon, which is my eldest son, is guarding Hwangnyongsa Temple upon orders of Brahma, the Creator. If you build a nine-story pagoda upon your return to Silla, the neighboring states will surrender and pay tribute, and the royal cause will be stronger. Once the construction of the pagoda is complete, prepare a memorial service for the local gods and pardon any of the country's criminals. If you follow all I have told you, no other state will dare invade Silla.”

    After this encounter, Jajang returned to Silla and convinced Queen Seondeok to build the nine-story pagoda. Master architect Abiji of the neighboring state Baekje designed the pagoda and the project was built by Yongchun and 200 men using wood and stone. The night before the columns were to be erected, Architect Abiji of Baekje dreamed of the fall of Baekje and refused to complete the project. With a peal of thunder, an old monk and a man of great strength suddenly appeared from the temple's main hall, erected the columns, and magically disappeared. Abiji was so shocked at the sight that he accepted his country’s future demise as the fate of the gods and once again restarted work on the temple. (From Samgungnyusa, the Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms)

    In the twenty-three years following the completion of the pagoda, Queen Seondeok unified the Three Kingdoms; later, numerous scholars pointed to the pagoda as a contributing factor in the unification. Of the three treasures of Silla, two were located at Hwangnyongsa Temple. The largest bell of Silla was also in the temple, but was taken away during the Mongol invasion. The highest monks of Silla preached at the temple, and many kings came to listen to the Buddhist teachings.

    During excavation work in July 1969, the massive foundation stones of the sermon hall, auditorium, and pagoda were found. Eight years of archaeological excavations and studies revealed the unique layout of the temple grounds, which consisted of one pagoda and three halls; also found were 40,000 or so ancient artifacts. Though foundation stones and other structures from the bottom of the temple were identified through excavation, there are no historical clues about the temple’s upper design, making the restoration of the temple in its entirety practically impossible. The size of the temple, based on archeological findings, was about 70 acres, roughly eight times larger than that of Bulguksa Temple.

    Current Status
    Historic Site No. 6 (Designated on January 21, 1963)

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