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National Treasure

East and West Three-story Stone Pagodas at Gameunsa Temple Site, Gyeongju

경주 감은사지 동·서 삼층석탑 ( 慶州 感恩寺址 東·西 三層石塔 )

Heritage Search Detail
Classification National Treasure
Name of Cultural Properties East and West Three-story Stone Pagodas at Gameunsa Temple Site, Gyeongju
Quantity 2 Items
Designated Date 1962.12.20
Age The 7th century (Unified Silla)
Address 55-9, 55-3, Yongdang-ri, Yangbuk-myeon, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do

These twin pagodas, standing on a site once occupied by a historic Buddhist temple named Gameunsa, feature stone structures each of which consists of a double-tier base supporting a three-storied body. The pagodas show that Gameunsa is one of the first Silla temples that adopted a new architectural system established directly after the unification of the three ancient Korean kingdoms in the 7th century wherein a temple had two pagodas in its precincts but had only one under the old system. Gameunsa was established in this part of the southeastern coastal area by King Munmu (r. 661-681) who, having completed the unification of the three Korean kingdoms, wanted to strengthen the dignity of the kingdom -- and repel the Japanese pirates who disturbed its eastern coastal region so often -- by invoking magical intervention from Buddha. The king died before the completion of the temple, which was materialized in 682 when Silla was under the reign of his son, King Sinmun (r. 681-692). The Silla rulers’ yearning for the protection of their kingdom from foreign enemies is reflected on the twin pagodas’ imposing figures. One of the characteristic features of these pagodas is that, unlike most other stone pagodas made in the same period wherein each story is made of a single block of stone, each story is built by fitting a multiple number of stone blocks together. A major repair work done in 1960 led to the discovery of a gilt-bronze sarira reliquary (Treasure No. 366-1) and its matching gilt-bronze outer case (Treasure No. 366-2) on the West Three-story Stone Pagoda. These are the largest stone pagodas to have survived in Gyeongju today and are widely admired as majestic figures soaring high on a raised land against the East Sea.