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Historic Site

Wonwonsa Temple Site, Gyeongju

경주 원원사지 ( 慶州 遠願寺址 )

Heritage Search Detail
Classification Historic Site
Name of Cultural Properties Wonwonsa Temple Site, Gyeongju
Quantity 321,973㎡
Designated Date 1963.01.21
Age Silla
Address 2, Mohwa-ri, Oedong-eup, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do

A temple built during the Unified Silla (668~935) once stood here at the foot of Bongseosan Mountain. Named Wonwonsa, the temple is believed to have been built by Buddhist Monks Anhye and Nangyung, who are followers of esoteric Buddhism, and Generals Kim Yusin, Kim Uiwon, and Kim Suljong as a place to pray for national security. A site of the main hall, two three-storied stone pagodas, a stone lantern, and some stupas can be found here. A pagoda is located east of the temple site, and one, to the west. The two, restored during the Japanese colonial rule of Korea (1910~1945), are identical in size and sculptural embellishment. The overall construction and styling -- especially the two pillars carved on the upper and lower parts of the pedestals -- indicate that they were built during the Unified Silla Period (668~935). The figures carved on the upper part of the pedestals are the 12 figures of the Oriental zodiac, and the 4 figures carved on the first story of each pagoda are Lokapala, Guardian Kings of the Four Quarters, the world, and the Buddhist faith. Between two pagodas is a stone lantern. Three bell-shaped stupas are in the valley 500m northeast of the temple site, with one in the valley 300m northwest of the site. All four are believed to date back to the Goryeo period (918~1392). Wonwonsa Temple had been one of the centers of esoteric Buddhism from the Unified Silla to the early Goryeo Period with Sacheonwangsa Temple erected by Monk Myeongnangbeopsa and Geumgwangsa Temple, and it seems to have remained until the late Joseon Dynasty (1392~1910). The workmanship of the pagoda serves as evidence that it was an elegant temple.