20 February 2011

Baekje History Tour

I've been trying to minimize the touring for rest of the month because I spent so much money in Japan and because I'm trying to gear up for all of the traveling I am planning to do in the spring.  However, it's impossible for me to completely stop traveling, so this weekend I visited Gongju ( 공주 ).  This is a town/city of about 125,000 people and it's claim to fame is that it was the capitol of the Baekje Kingdom from 475 to 538.  Since I just wrote an article on the history of Baekje last week, I figured this was as good of a time as any to visit this historical place.  I recently updated my Baekje post, along with a couple other posts, to include some of the pictures that I took this weekend.

I woke up around 6:45 on Saturday in order to catch the 7:45 train to Daejeon.  Unfortunately, Gongju does not have a train station, so I had to take a 20 minute stroll from Daejeon train station to the intercity bus terminal.  The bus from Daejeon to Gongju is a little over an hour, so I ended up doing quite a bit of traveling on Saturday.  I got into to Gongju around noon and headed off to my first destination: Gongsanseong.

Gongsanseong ( 공산성 )
This is a mountain fortress that is located along the Geum river ( 금강 ) and contains many monuments and pavilions.  Yeonggeun temple ( 영근사 ) is also located within the fortress.  The fortress was constructed during the rule of the Baekje Kingdom and is one of the most famous Baekje fortresses.  It was originally made of mud and called Unjinseong ( 운진성 ), but was later renovated with stone during the Joseon Dynasty and given its current name.  So, let's head through Geumseoru Gate and start the tour!

Geumseoru Gate Pavilion ( 공산성 금서루 ) with numerous steles in front
There are a couple different paths to choose from, but I chose to make a right and head over toward Jinnamnu Gate.  I stopped at the Twin Tree Pavilion on the way, but I wasn't too impressed.  From Jinnamnu Gate I backtracked a little bit and went toward the river to find Yeongeun Temple.  This was a pretty nice place and had a beautiful view of the river.  Manharu Pavilion and a lotus pond are situated in front of the temple.

Jinnamnu Gate Pavilion ( 공산성 진남루 )
Inside one of the buildings at Yeongeunsa ( 영은사 )
After leaving Manharu, I walked along the fortress wall for a little bit until I found my way to Imnyugak Pavilion.  Other than the wall that surrounds the fortress, this was probably the most impressive structure at Gongsanseong.  I then continued my walk along the wall and passed the Yeongdongnu Gate Pavilion on my way back to Jinnamnu.  From Jinnamnu, I then walked to the front gate. 

Imnyugak Pavilion ( 임류각 )
Yeongdongnu Gate Pavilion ( 공산성 영동루 )
After arriving back at the front gate, I took a short trek up to Gongsanjeong Pavilion, which provided some beautiful views of the city.  Then I was on my way to the next destination.

Passed this guy on the way
Gongsanjeong Pavilion ( 공산정 )
Songsanri ( 송산리 )
Songsanri is about a 15 minute walk from Gongsanseong and is the site of 7 royal tombs from the Baekje Kingdom.  The most famous of these is the tomb of King Muryeong, which was the only tomb that had not been robbed prior to discovery.  It actually wasn't uncovered until 1971 when digging began for the installation of a water drainage system.  King Muryeong ruled from 501 until 523 and the unearthing of his tomb provided a lot of insight into Baekje culture during the time of his reign.  There were actually 4,600 objects recovered from his tomb!  The site of Songsanri contains a walking path around the tombs as well as a museum that contains some of the artifacts from the tomb.  Here are some of things to see:

Mural on the wall of the No. 6 tomb

King's gold diadem ornaments, gold chignon ornaments, and gold earrings
Queen's gold diadem ornaments, gold necklaces, gold earrings, and gold and silver bracelets
Royal Tombs
Gongju National Museum ( 국립공주박물관 )
The museum is very close to the tombs and there is actually a nice walking path through the woods that takes about 10 minutes.  The museum opened in 1940 and houses over 20,000 historical pieces.  The museum focuses on Baekje history, but it also has artifacts uncovered from the surrounding areas that date to other periods in Korean history.  The museum has an outdoor collection and a two-floor permanent exhibition.  The first floor is dedicated to the tomb of King Muryeong and the second floor has galleries dedicated to the Prehistoric era, Baekje, and Unified Silla. 

Gongju National Museum and the outdoor gallery
Queen's headrest
King's headrest
Silver cup with bronze stand
Joseon Jar
Stone daggers
Baekje Quiver
Stone Seated Buddha
This was my last stop on the tour of Gongju, so I found my way back to the bus terminal.  On the way back I happened to see some guys flying around in powered parachutes.  These are parachutes with seats that have a fan attached to the back.  The thing I was most amazed by was that the contraption actually generated lift when the fan was pointed toward the ground.  I have no idea how powerful the fan was, but the guys were flying around for at least 15 or 20 minutes.  I was pretty impressed and I definitely wouldn't mind taking a ride in one of those.

No comments:

Post a Comment