Gongju & Buyeo Heritage Tour
About World Heritage
Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple | Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories of the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks | Jongmyo Shrine | Changdeokgung Palace Complex | Hwaseong Fortress | Gyeongju Historic Areas | Gochang, Hwasun, and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites | Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes | Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty | Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong | Namhansanseong | Baekje Historic Areas
Gongju National Museum
Gongju National Museum manages and preserves the cultural treasures excavated from northern Chungcheongnam-do. It takes special care of cultural treasures discovered at the Muryeong Royal Tomb in 1971. The Muryeong Royal Tomb is the tomb of King Muryeong (501-523) from the Baekje Period, and his queen consort. You can view most of the relics from the tomb at the museum. The current buildings were specifically built to exhibit these relics. Gongju Museum has excavated many other relics and sites. he exhibit hall constitutes of 2 parts. It exhibits over 1000 relics, including National Treasure No.19 and No.4. The first room of the 2nd floor displays the relics from the Muryeong tomb. It is quite a treat to view the golden belt, bracelet and bronze mirrors. There is even a full-scale model of the Muryeong tomb for you to view.
The 2nd room of the first floor displays the relics from the Chungcheongnam-do area chronologically. Outside, in front of the main building, is a garden you can visit after viewing the inside of the museum, and you can see many relics which were excavated from the entire Gongju district. An eye-catching sight is the two large stone bowls, used long ago to store water. Between the relics, there are dozens of golden pine, pine and cherry trees, which are over 70 years old. It is an ideal place for visitors to rest. If you are looking for souvenirs, there is a souvenir shop where you will find many cute souvenirs.
Songsan-ri Tombs and Royal Tomb of King Muryeong [UNESCO World Heritage]
The Songsan-ri Tombs and Royal Tomb of King Muryeong (reign 462-523) contains representative relics of the Baekje period (234~678). The Songsan-ri Tombs contain the graves of kings from the period when Baekje's capital was Gongju, and it is believed to contain 10 such graves. Only seven graves have been discovered so far.
The main attraction of Songsan-ri Tombs is the wall painting drawn on the number six tomb – it is the only art of its kind in the world, created from the way the bricks were laid to create the wall. The tomb is shaped like a long tunnel, the top rounded like a dome. There are pictures of fire-breathing dragons on the tomb. Only the parts of the wall where the pictures were to be drawn had earth coated on, and on that earth was drawn Sasindo, the Four Symbols – blue dragon, white tiger, red peacock, and black turtle.
The popular Tomb of King Muryeong is the 7th tomb, and it is the resting place for Baekje's 25th King Mu-Ryeong and his queen. This tomb was discovered accidentally when installing pipes to prevent tombs number 5 and 6 from being flooded. Tomb of King Muryeong was found to be unusual in the way it was built and what it contained. It was built with bricks like the 6th Tomb, and many national treasures were found inside, supplying scholars studying Baekje culture with precious research material. There were 108 kinds of artifacts found inside, totaling 2,906 items altogether. Twelve of these artifacts were designated National Treasures. They are all on display at Gongju National Museum. Some of the representative treasures are the crowns worn by the king and the queen, gold decorations for the crowns, gold earrings, necklaces, bronze mirrors, pillows, and foot rests. Recently the tomb was permanently sealed off to protect the treasures. However, you can look at the miniature of the tomb, an exact duplicate of the original, in the basement of the Gobungun Building.
Nakhwaam is a rock cliff towering over Baengmagang River in the northern end of Busosan Mountain. According to the legend, this is where the royal court women of Baekje jumped off to kill themselves when the kingdom of Baekje was defeated during the invasion of Sabiseong Fortress (now Busosanseong Fortress in Buyeo) by the Shilla-Tang Alliance. The name of this rock, Nakhwaam, literally means "the cliff of falling flowers" and symbolizes the fidelity and loyalty of Baekje women.
Goransa Temple is located at the foot of Baengmagang River, surrounded by the cliffs of Nakhwaam. The temple is assumed to have been built toward the end of the Baekje Kingdom. Although there is no historical record of the temple, it has been said it was used as a resting spot for kings of the Baekje Kingdom.
There is a well-named Goranjeong behind the temple, with Gorancho (Crypsinus hastatus) growing between the rocks above the well. The kings of Baekje used to drink water from Goranjeong at least once a day, and the servants who brought the water floated the leaves of Gorancho plant as sign that it came from that well.
Visitors to the temple should also take some time to enjoy the beautiful views of Baengmagang River. A ferry ride along the river also offers splendid views.
Gwanbuk-ri Relics and Busosanseong Fortress of Buyeo [UNESCO World Heritage]
Gwanbuk-ri Relics and Busosanseong Fortress (Historic Site No. 5) is a mud fortress located on top of Busosan Mountain (alt. 106m) in the northern part of Buyeo. The fortress is estimated by some to have been built around 538 AD (16th year of King Seongwang) to protect Sabi (now Buyeo), which was once the capital of the Baekje Kingdom. Other historians, however, believe that the fortress was already in place by 500 AD (22nd year of King Dongseongwang) and modified in 605 (6th year of King Muwang) into the structure we see today. In either case, some parts of the fortress were reconstructed during the Unified Silla Kingdom period (676-935 AD) and modified again in the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1910) eras.
Busosan Mountain was once considered the guardian mountain of Buyeo and is home to historic landmarks from the Baekje Kingdom (18 BC-660 AD). In addition to Busosanseong Fortress, some of the most famous sites on the mountain include Baekhwajeong Pavilion, Sajaru Pavilion, Banwollu Pavilion, Yeongillu Pavilion, Samchungsa Shrine (dedicated to three loyal subjects of the Baekje Kingdom), Gungnyeosa Shrine, Goransa Temple, Gunchangji (military warehouse site), and Suhyeoljugeoji (site of pit houses for the Baekje soldiers). The mountain is also home to Nakhwaam Rock where, according to legend, 3,000 women of the Baekje Kingdom threw themselves into the river below after the collapse of the empire.
Historic Sites of Busosan Mountain
■ Samchungsa Shrine
Samchungsa Shrine is just a short hike from Sabimun, the main gate of Busosanseong Fortress. The shrine holds the portraits and memorial tablets of Seongchung, Heungsu, and Gyebaek, who were known as the three most loyal subjects of the Baekje Kingdom. Memorial services are held for these great patriots during the annual Baekje Cultural Festival each October.
■ Yeongillu Pavilion
Yeongillu Pavilion was built on the site of Yeongildae, an observation platform located on the easternmost peak of Busosan Mountain. Kings and members of the royal family of the Baekje Kingdom once used this spot as a place from which to watch the sun rise above Yeoncheonbong Peak on Gyeryongsan Mountain, plan state affairs, and pray for the peace of the kingdom and their subjects.
Also known as “Mallichang,” Gunchangji is the site of a warehouse that was used to store grain for military use. Remnants of burnt grain were discovered at the site in 1915.
Suhyeoljugeoji, only a short distance from Gunchangji, was once the site of a pit house for soldiers of the Baekje Dynasty. The thatched-roof pit houses that stand on the site today have been reconstructed based on historical evidence uncovered during site excavation. Measuring 1m in depth with walls of wood and straw, the pit houses are neighbored by an exhibition hall that stands on the original excavation site.
■ Sajaru Pavilion
Sajaru Pavilion, located on the highest peak of Busosan Mountain (alt. 106m), is said to represent the cosmic powers of yin and yang together with Yeongillu Pavilion in the east. Adorned with a nameplate written by Prince Uichinwang Yi Gang (1877-1955), Sajaru commands an ethereal view of the moon and has long since been the source of poetic inspiration. The pavilion was also the site of discovery of the famous Geumdong-seokga-yeorae-ipsang (Gilt-bronze Standing Buddha, Treasure No. 196).
■ Baekhwajeong Pavilion
Baekhwajeong Pavilion, perched on the cliffs of Nakhwaam Rock, was built in 1929 by a poets’ society called Bupungsisa to commemorate the story of the famous rock. According to the historical tale, the women of Baekje flung themselves off the cliffs of Nakhwaam to their deaths after the kingdom collapsed to keep themselves from being defiled by the men of the insurgent kingdoms.
■ Gungnyeosa Shrine
Gungnyeosa Shrine is located a short distance from Taejagol (Crown Prince Valley) to the northeast of Banwollu Square. Established in 1965, the shrine honors the Baekje women who leaped to their deaths from the cliffs of Nakhwaam Rock in 660 when the empire was conquered by the allied forces of the Silla Kingdom and the Tang Dynasty of China. Commemorative rites are held at the shrine every October during the Baekje Cultural Festival.