Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju

출처 모토스토리 / 21세기형 나그네 | R미스타
Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju
I love Gyeongju Mt. Namsan with all my heart!! The local in Gyeongju always tell the story.

 “Please, don’t talk about Gyeongju without sightseeing on Mt. Namsan.”

Yes, right. If you visit Gyeongju, I’d like you to put Mt. Namsan trail on your must-go place list. I feel sorry when people go sightseeing to just for the typical places called Gyeongju FM Trail excluding Mt. Namsan because it is not that so high that climbing even with children is possible.

In fact, thanks to the president running the accommodation called ‘the plain house in harmony with the nature’, I got to know the mountain first.

Two years ago when I first got the accomodation, the president asked us ‘how we set the travel routes’. When we told him our routes, the president recommended us to climb Mt. Namsan by saying that climbing the mountain was a must. That was the moment when I got to know and feel the mountain. People should be good listeners.

This is the map of Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju

  I try to quote the explanation from guide books.

Mt. Namsan is the towering mountain of the southern Seorabeol that was the capital of the ancient Silla, and it is 4km away from the downtown of Gyeongju-si, running north-southward(about 8km long) with the oval shape and east-westward (about 4km wide) at an altitude of 468 meters and surrounding Seorabeol as a natural rampart.

A thousand years have passed since Silla declined and fell, but Mt. Namsan which used to be the Western Paradise and the Land of happiness to Silla people still teems with Buddha statues and stone pagodas scattered around every valley and inspiring lots of legends despite damage and loss over time.

Mt. Namsan is largely divided into Dongnamsan, Seonamsan, and Namnamsan. Dongnamsan, with its 1.5km-long steep topography, has 29 temple sites, 39 Buddha statues, 27 stone pagodas, and 10 stone lanterns. Seonamsan, with its 2.5km-long gentle topography, has 71 temple sites, 37 Buddha statues, 34 stone pagodas and 9 stone lanterns with lots of remains. Nansam can be called the unprecedented open-air museum in the world with 6 temple sites, 2 Buddha statues, 2 stone pagodas, and 4 stone lanterns.

The mountain is called a living sanctuary of Silla’s history and soul where historical antiquities remain ranging from the Stone Age to Najeong Well to Poseokjeong which was the heart of the Silla’s national defense until the end of its history. Mt. Namsan’s morning dew is described as the Silla people’s crystal clear eyes; the sunlight walking over Mt. Namsan like the pendulum as the Silla people’s whisper. As above, nothing can be comparable to the noted mountain which embraces the radiant redolence of natural Seorabeol inside, without showing outside.

It was designated as the UNESCO World Heritage in 2000.
As such, it is full of tons of cultural remains. It is said that it takes at least one week to see the entire cultural heritage on Mt. Namsan. I haven’t seen all of them yet. I will post Mt. Namsan related pictures taken when I went there this year and the year before last.

There several ways to climb up Mt. Namsan, but I chose the Samneung area after parking in the Samneung parking lot. The picture shows Samneung of Mt. Namsan.
Mountain climbing from any direction is possible. You can climb in the direction leading to lots of cultural remains. Cultural remains are everywhere around Mt. Namsan.

A sign says at least five-minute stretching is a must before mountain climbing for injury prevention,-so I’m warming up with some stretches.
Because I haven’t climbed for a while, I feel the lack of exercise and weak physical strength whenever I do some exercise. It’s a natural result for I always go to my destinations by bike with no need for a walk.

I am passing by an apple orchard where apples are getting ripe. The apple sold in the local store tasted great.

The statue without a head is Seokjoyeoraejwasang. Sometimes regretfully, statues without a head are found here and there, and not only in Gyeongju.
There are hypotheses regarding the reason for. Anyway I’m really sorry for them.

This is Maaegwaneumbosalsang in Samreung Valley. (Tangible Cultural Property No.19)
Quite a lot of cultural properties like the reliefs of Buddha statues carved on the natural granite are seen on Mt. Namsan.

A dimly visible picture is the image of Seongagyukjonbul in Samreung Valley. Taking a close look at it, you can see six Buddha images carved on two big rock surfaces despite the erosion over ages. Looking at the right rock face, you can notice the trace of the Buddhist sanctuary to protect these images.

Stacked stone towers are everywhere on Mt. Namsan. I made a wish, stacking some stone.


This is Seokbuljwasang in Samreung Valley. Doesn’t it look uncannily precise? The reason is that the Japanese restored it once nonsensically and a few years ago, Cultural Hreitage Adminstration did it again at the request of Gyeongju-si.
Ah…whenever seeing cultural properties, I have an ironic sense of feeling: wonder and anger welling up from my heart. Yes, put it as gently as I can, I don’t like the country, Japan. The more I travel, the stronger the idea.

 Before Seokbuljwasang that has a great view. Wherever you take photos on Mt. Namsan, they are paintings, masterpieces of nature.

This is the picture on the first page of the posting of Maaegwaneumbosalsang in Samreung Valley (Tangible Cultural Property No. 158), carved on the edge of the granite cliff. According to a cultural heritage interpreter, this statue is watching a human being standing right before it, not viewing things in the distance. It is Buddha looking down with the heartfelt mercy and saying, ‘Good job. I’m happy to see you.’ I confirmed this when I saw the profile at the peak some distance from here. The statue is so big that it can be seen from a distance.

This is a picture taken from a distance, not a complete profile, but a picture taken at diagonal bit of an angle. (Forgetfully I just already walked away.)

This is the scenery viewed from above Baduk-bawi which is not the highest peak, but from which you have a glance at the-thousand-year Silla capital. It has the great view that cannot be seen from above the highest peak. What’s more, it is known as the place where gods would play baduk.

Cheonmachong, Cheomseongdae, Hwangnyongsaji, Poseokjeong, Daereungwon Tomb Complex, Bunhwangsa Temple, Muryeongwangneung Tomb, and etc. are in that scenery. This can be called the best viewpoint of Gyeongju. If climbing Mt. Namsan, don’t miss this place, please. It makes you feel like you are experiencing the joy of heaven.

 Group photo on Baduk-bawi

Group photo on Baduk-bawi
This is the Yongjangsaji three-storied stone pagoda in Yongjangsaji (National Treasure No. 186) where Kim Si-seup (aka pen name Maewoldang) wrote the first novel in classical Chinese in Korea, titled, Geumosinhwa. Regretfully, there is no temple site left, but the pagoda is really a marvel in itself. Yongjangsaji three-storied stone pagoda, rising skyward on the edge of the precipice above the mountain, was built on natural rock without a lower stereobate in harmony with the natural landscape nearby. This harmony is art itself.

This place impressed me as much as the pagoda in Gameunsa Temple.

This is Yongjangsaji Samryunseokbuljwasang (National Treasure No. 187).

This Buddha statue has no head, enshrined in the place comprised of processed upper natural stone with three stone pillars, and seated on the stacked pedestal in plate-shaped form with legs crossed. Without the head, it’s hard to figure out what image it is. When the sun was about to set, I got here.

Usually I have seen quadrilateral pagodas. This was the first time I saw round-shaped pagodas. This Buddha statue seated on a pedestal is in Yongjangsaji. Among dozens of temples on Mt. Namsan, this Yongjangsaji is the most large-scale one. Kim Si-seup (aka pen name Maewoldang) wandered nationwide noted mountains and temples from the age of 21, and at the age of 29, he found this place. He stayed here and began writing Geumosinhwa. Climbing down the mountain, I read the poem written by Kim Si-seup at the time, which was impressive. I regret not taking photos. For the day, It took me four hours in total to arrive here. It was not that hard hiking this path.

These are the pictures taken on Mt. Namsan the year before last.

This is Chilburam on Mt. Namsan (National Treasure No. 200).

There are three Buddha images carved on the rock at the back and four on quadrilateral granite in front. That’s why it is named Chilburam. Chilburam is almost next to Sinseonam which will be introduced later. If you want to climb this way, climbing up toward Seochulji Pond on Mt. Namsan, soon you can see Chilburam and Sinseonam. The route I climbed from Samreung is long in distance. There is a small temple by Chilburam, where a Buddhist nun from Hungary is. It was a really moving day. Because I had no idea about mountain climbing, I just climbed in jeans, eating nothing without water. When I had almost reached Chilburam, I was totally thirsty and exhausted (partly because of lack of prior exercise).

At that time, the Buddhist nun from Hungary who speaks Korean very well cooked ramen for us. It is unimaginable to have ramen in this deep mountain. It was a completely moving moment. I ate it like mad.
And she served us coffee with ice cream as a topping for a dessert. I liked the generous tone in her voice and the warmth in her eyes when she saw us. We still keep the nun’s mind in our heart. She wouldn’t receive any money, so we said, ‘we’ll put the money before the Buddha statue in Chilburam,’ and she replied “No.” We asked her what that money before the statue was, and she replied people who wanted to be pregnant left it, and we were not there for it. We asked her what items would be helpful to the temple (we were also persistent); she just said that our good mind was the important thing and would receive it later. We promised to climb again with a box of ramen. It was really a beautiful memory to me.

This is Sinseonam located above Chilburam (National Treasure No. 199).
It is the Buddha image carved on rock that is almost on top of the mountain. Looking around with the natural landscape of surroundings, you feel like looking down at humans from above clouds.

This is the picture with the landscape of surroundings. This is Mr. R before I knew RASTAR two years ago.
These are the pictures of Chilburam and Sinseonam on Mt. Namsan the year before last.

It is not on Mt. Namsan, but for a moment we visited Ungok Seowon near the accommodation called ‘the plain house in harmony with the nature’.
The door was closed so that people could not enter. Nearby, there is a 350-year-old ginkgo tree which is too big to be framed within the camera.
Anyway, there are many cool venues near the accommodations, but I turned my steps to Gamsilbuchesang, the last one on Mt. Namsan itinerary.

On the way to Gamsilbuchesang that I love so much, there is bamboo forest tunnel. It is amazing. Nobody has enhanced it artificially, but the bamboo forest leads the way like a tunnel. Anyway, passing through the bamboo forest tunnel and climbing up a little,

you see the Gamsilbuchesang.

Gamsilbuchesang is called Halmaebucheo (Halmae means a grandma) in Gyeongju (National Treasure No. 198). Look at the benevolent smile of a grandmother, please.
It is the oldest Buddha statue on Mt. Namsan with thick cheeks and a slight smile around the lips. And the eyes closed comfortably and smiling benevolently. It is the Buddha statue that I love so much.

Here it is from a little different angle

People carved a huge natural rock to make a canopy and then sculpted the Buddha image inside it. Some say, ‘it’s not carving the rock and sculpting the Buddha, but finding the Buddha first and bringing it out,’ that is so marvelous if you see it in reality, you can sense that expression is right.  

It is said that a Japanese student came here once, and was so charmed by Gamsilbuchesang,that camped out for a day, setting up a tent by the statue.

Group photo before Gamsilbuchesang
Gamsilbuchesang is located at the foot of Mt. Namsan. It is not far away from the main road (there is a parking lot nearby). It is a strongly recommendable place.


  1. Hello. I am interested to go Sinseonam located above chilburam. However not many blog talks about this place and i am wonder whether it is difficult to get there. Do u mind sharing with me the route u took at namsan? Besides, it the hiking trail difficult? or it is only suitable for people who is physically fit or people who exercise regularly? Thank you so much. =)


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