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Heungnyunsa Temple Site, Gyeongju
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Classification Historic Site
Name of Cultural Properties Heungnyunsa Temple Site, Gyeongju
Quantity 11,683㎡
Designated Date 1963.01.21
Age King Jinheung of Silla Period
Address 281-1, Sajeong-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do

Silla's first Buddhist temple, Heungnyunsa Temple, is said to have been first built as a poor, thatch-roofed building by Buddhist Missionary Ado during the Silla Dynasty. When, after the martyrdom of Yi Cha-don in the 14th year of the reign of King Beopheung (527), Buddhism was adopted as the national religion in the fifth year of the reign of King Jinheung (544), Heungnyunsa Temple was expanded and rebuilt as the royal temple. Since then, Silla kings and aristocrats had become ardent patrons of the temple, treating it as a symbol of patriotism, national prosperity, and peace. The temple consisted of a main prayer hall, an eight-story pagoda, an inner gate, a lecture hall, and the gallery, although many do not exist today. In the main hall, the Maitreya Triad is enshrined along with the portraits of some of the greatest Buddhist monks of Silla including Ado, Yi Cha-don, Hyesuk, Anham, Uisang, Pyohun, Wonhyo, Hyegong, Jijang and Sapa. The temple was burnt down by the rebel forces during the last years of Silla but rebuilt in the fifth year of King Gyeongmyeong’s reign (921). The temple was damaged by another fire in the Joseon Dynasty, and it remained closed. It was in the 1980s when Heungnyunsa Temple was reborn. The stone water bowl, the largest stone work of Silla, and the stone prayer platform that belonged to the old temple were moved to Gyeongju National Museum. The most famous relic excavated here is perhaps the broken piece of "male" tile onto which a smiling face is carved.