The rich and distinct culture of Korea has created countless amazing landmarks. Yes, South Korea has beautiful natural landmarks, but the extremely rich man-made heritage leaves them in shadow. The most interesting landmarks of South Korea are:
- Buddhist temples – many temples in South Korea resemble small towns with numerous very ornate buildings and countless treasures inside.
- Traditional villages – in the country are found several villages which seem to be brought by time machine from 500 – 600 years old past.
- Megalithic monuments – major part of world’s megalithic monuments are found in North and South Korea.
Map with the described wonders
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Top 25 wonders of South Korea
Second longest lava cave in South Korea, 8,928 m long.
The only grove of Torreya nucifera trees – beautiful conifers, mostly old and large trees. Here grow many rare and endemic plants. Here is located also the oldest nutmeg tree, more than 800 years old.
One of the Royal tombs of Gyeongju – a large tumulus that was built in the 5th or 6th century AD. This 12.7 m tall artificial hill has a wood-lined passage in it. 11,500 artifacts have been recovered from this tomb. The tomb contained an interesting drawing of the so-called “Korean Pegasus” – a horse with eight legs.
Ruins of an enormous mountain fortress that was constructed in 470 – 473 AD. The measured length of the walls is 1,680 – 1880 m and they were 13 – 20 m tall.
Burial of the ruler of Baekje Kingdom in 501 – 523 AD. This tomb was found intact and has been one of the most interesting archaeological discoveries in the history of South Korea.
A royal palace complex, first built in 1395 and rebuilt in 1867, when 330 buildings with 5,792 rooms were constructed. One of the symbols of Korea. Currently, the complex is undergoing reconstruction.
The royal palace complex of the Joseon Dynasty, an outstanding achievement of Korean architecture. The palace complex was built in 1405 – 1412 and currently, there are 13 buildings and gardens with 28 pavilions. The complex has free planning that is in a harmony with the hilly relief and nature.
The oldest royal Confucian shrine with ancient traditions preserved since the 14th century. The main structure was built in 1394 (rebuilt after a fire in 1608) when Seoul became the capital. The main building is 95 m long.
Temple complex with outstanding relics and monuments of architecture, such as Dabotap pagoda (751 AD?) and Seokgatap pagoda (also 751 AD?) with treasures under it.
This is the largest Buddhist temple complex in Korea, established in 646 AD. Today it consists of 65 buildings. The temple candle has been burning without interruption for the last 1300 years.
A very well preserved traditional village that was founded in the 15th century. A group of more than 160 traditional houses in dense forest, with local people still practicing traditions of the old.
The main temple of Jogye Buddhist Order. Originally built in 678 AD, burned to the ground in 1592. Rebuilt in 1613 and contains many treasures of art.
The former capital of the Silla Kingdom. In the city are located numerous monuments of architecture and history and it is nicknamed “the museum without walls”.
Late medieval village and castle. This village is a planned settlement that was built for administrative purposes and has a well-kept architecture and traditions. 231 traditional houses have been preserved. The village is surrounded by walls.
An ancient temple, founded in 544 AD and rebuilt in the early 17th century. Temple contains important treasures of art and history. An important structure is the ornate Gakhwangjeon Hall that was constructed in 1699 – 1702.
This rock-cut temple is located near Bulguksa and contains some of the best Buddhist sculptures in the world. Temple was made in 742 – 774. Especially impressive is the 3.5 m tall statue of Buddha.
Beautiful mountain temple with some 20 historical buildings. According to local legends, the temple was founded in 529 AD. Temple contains many outstanding treasures, current buildings were built mostly in the 17th century. On temple grounds is an old tea plantation with 300 – 400 years old tea plants.
Well preserved, impressive mountain fortress that now is adorned with parks and temples. The first known fortress was built here in 672 AD. Current structures have been constructed mainly in the 17th – 18th century. Since 1954 here is a park with fine views of Seoul.
An important temple complex, it was first built in 802 AD. Since 1398 it has held an entire set of Buddhist Scriptures – the Tripitaka Koreana written on 81,258 wooden blocks.
Royal tomb where the umbilical cords of King Taejo (the early 15th century) and his son Jeongjong are buried.
Ancient astronomical (astrological?) observatory, built in the 7th century AD. One of the oldest observatories in the world.
Traditional village with original, approximately 600 years old network of streets and alleys. In the village have been preserved many hanok – traditional houses.
The only preserved city walls in South Korea, built around the historical center of Suwon City in 1794 – 1796. Wall is 5.74 km long and 4 – 6 m tall.
One of the main Buddhist temples in Korea. Initially, it was founded in 867 and later reestablished in the 1190ies. The site includes a residential building from the 15th century – one of the oldest in Korea.
This temple was founded in 676 AD. It contains valuable treasures including the second oldest wooden structure in the South Korea – Muryangsujeon – that was reconstructed in 1376.
Insight Guide South Korea is an indispensable travel guide to a land of haunting natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, full of stunning travel photography. Be inspired by our Best of South Korea section highlighting unmissable sights and experiences and lavish Photo Features on festivals, street food, hiking and national parks, and mountain temples.
Apart from the headline-making politics, not much is known in the West about the Korean people and their ancient culture. Yet those who visit Korea, whether North or South, find a land of great interest. The Koreans, when not constrained by politics or other considerations, are friendly and sociable, and the peninsula has areas of outstanding natural beauty. The South’s cities, if not always beautiful, are vibrant and alive. The North, while very different, is complex and fascinating. The standoff between the two countries of the Korean Peninsula is a legacy of the Cold War and a potential flashpoint for future conflict.