Sites & cities that bear the name of Gyeongju


Today in : Korea, Republic of
First trace of activity : 57 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Saro-guk, 서라벌, Seorabeol, 경주, Gyerim, Geumseong, Donggyeong

Description : Gyeongju (Korean: 경주, pronounced ), historically known as Seorabeol (Korean: 서라벌, pronounced ), 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 early history of Gyeongju is closely tied to that of the Silla kingdom, of which it was the capital. Gyeongju first enters non-Korean records as Saro-guk, during the Samhan period in the early Common Era. Korean records, probably based on the dynastic chronicles of Silla, record that Saro-guk was established in 57 BCE, when six small villages in the Gyeongju area united under Bak Hyeokgeose. As the kingdom expanded, it changed its name to Silla. During the Silla period, the city was called "Seorabeol" (lit. Capital), "Gyerim" (lit. Rooster's forest) or "Geumseong" (lit. City of Gold). After the unification of the peninsula up to Taedong River in 668 AD, Gyeongju became the center of Korean political and cultural life. The city was home to the Silla court and the great majority of the kingdom's elite. Its prosperity became legendary, and was reported as far away as Persia according to the 9th century book The Book of Roads and Kingdoms. Records of Samguk Yusa give the city's population in its peak period as 178,936 households, suggesting that the total population was almost one million. Many of Gyeongju's most famous sites date from this Unified Silla period, which ended in the late 9th century by Goryeo (918–1392). In 940, the founder of Goryeo, King Taejo, changed the city's name to "Gyeongju", which literally means "Congratulatory district". In 987, as Goryeo introduced a system in which three additional capitals were established in politically important provinces outside Gaegyeong (nowadays Kaesong), and Gyeongju was designated as "Donggyeong" ("East Capital"). However, that title was removed in 1012, the third year of King Hyeongjong's reign, due to political rivalries at that time, though Gyeongju was later made the seat of Yeongnam Province. It had jurisdiction over a wide area, including much of central eastern Yeongnam, although this area was greatly reduced in the 13th century. Under the subsequent Joseon (1392–1910) dynasties, Gyeongju was no longer of national importance, but remained a regional center of influence. In 1601, the city ceased to be the provincial capital.

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