Korea is home to 11 of UNESCO’s historically significant sites that span the globe. If you are visiting or living here on the Peninsula, here is a list of five favorite spots worth checking out during your stay.
1. Jongmyo Shrine, Seoul
Jongmyo Shrine was constructed by the first king and founder of the Joseon Dynasty, Lee Seong-gye (1335-1408). In its heyday, it was used as the primary place of worship for kings throughout the Joseon Dynasty and is now best-known for being the oldest and most well-preserved of the Confucian royal shrines. jikimi.cha.go.kr
2. Hwaseong Fortress, Suwon
The fortress was constructed between 1794 and 1796 as a display of the King’s Confucian filial piety toward his father. Surrounded by a strong defensive system, which brought together the latest defensive architecture from both East and West, the massive walls extend nearly 6 km and have remained intact over the centuries. ehs.suwon.ne.kr
3. Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju
Constructed in the 8th century, the Seokguram Grotto houses a monumental statue of the Buddha looking out to sea. Nearby Bulguksa Temple is a stunning example of Silla Dynasty construction, and, along with the Seokguram Grotto, forms a religious architectural complex of exceptional historical significance. gyeongju.go.kr
4. Haeinsa Temple, Gaya
Located on Gayasan, Haeinsa Temple is home to the famed Tripitaka Koreana, the most complete collection of Buddhist texts, which was engraved on 80,000 woodblocks between 1237 and 1248. Constructed in the 15th century, the Janggyeong Panjeon complex served the sole purpose of housing the sacred woodblocks. haeinsa.or.kr
5. Namhansanseong, Gaya
Namhansanseong was originally designed to serve as an emergency capital for the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). Located in the mountains 25 km southeast of Seoul, it was traditionally defended by Buddhist monk-soldiers. Though it was rebuilt several times, the earliest remains date from the 7th century. namhansansung.or.kr
For more information on Korean historic sites, visit the UNESCO website at whc.unesco.org.