Sat, May 19, in Gyeongju, South Korea

Today I went to visit the Bulguk-sa temple and the Seokguram Grotto, both dating to the 8th century AD, in the kingdom of Shilla.

Both sites are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Much of the Bulguk-sa temple was destroyed by Japanese invaders in the last century, but several parts are original, and the remainder have been restored. Among the unusual features of the temple are two sets of steps with arches beneath them, commonly referred to as bridges.

Inside the temple are two stone pagodas. The one on the left is called Dabotap, and is built in the simpler style of Shilla.

The one on the right is called Seokgatap, and is built in the more elaborate style of the kingdom of Baekje (Pekche).

Here is a picture of both pagodas.

There is also a Zelkova tree (presumably Zelkova Serrata) in one of the courtyards.

The temple eaves are very ornate, and there are other interesting things as well.

And also temple guardians at the gate of the temple.

I then walked up the mountain to an artificial grotto called Seokguram.

I saw some beautiful views along the way, including of flowering trees

and an animal that looks and acts like a chipmunk but has a tail a bit like a squirrel.

The Seokguram grotto is completely artificial

and is quite beautiful. Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures inside. Instead, perhaps you might enjoy this video and these descriptions

these stones which appear to be left over from the construction

and finally, these views from outside the entrance.

I then climbed up to the top of Tohamsan mountain (745m) and down the other side. Along the way, I found the site where they lit the torch for the 1988 Seoul olympics.

Various warning signs were given with very cute bears.