Gyeongju City has an exciting and deep history. Read here to learn about the history of Gyeongju, and the great role it has had in forming the Korea we know today. Where ever you go in Gyeongju City you are surrounded by history and the culture of the now over 2000 year old city, because of this some call Gyeongju “the museum without walls”.
Just by walking around you can see amazing historical sites anywhere you go, whether it’s a statue, temple, pond or a burial mound, there is always something to see. If you are even slightly interested in Korean culture, you need to visit Gyeongju.
The History of Gyeongju is interesting as it was the capital city of Silla for 992 years, (BC 557 – 935) this makes it the longest surviving kingdom in the history of Korea. In this time span the capital city of Silla was ruled by an astounding total of 56 Kings! What is also remarkable, is that the kingdom of Silla started off as a small tribal area and went on to become more than half of the Korean peninsula.
The capital city of Silla wasn’t always called Gyeongju, pre-935 it was known as “Seorabeol” or “Gyerim”. In the sixth century Buddhism was introduced to Silla, this allowed greater unification of the people of Gyeongju and a stronger royal authority.
It also laid the foundations for Gyeongju’s traditions, art and culture. This also means that Gyeongju City has become the home to the best Buddhist sculptures, buildings and art in Korea. The most well known of these are Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple.
History of Gyeongju: Traditional Food and Cuisine
There is some food which is unique and significant to the history of Gyeongju. The food and cuisine is worth trying if you come, and even if you’ve tried it before it will be more fresh and guaranteed to be made the traditional way if brought from within the city itself.
Gyeongju Hwangnamppang (황남빵)
Gyeongju Hwangnamppang (황남빵) is a special type of bread that has been a unique type of Gyeongju Food since 1939. For over 70 years this soft bread with sweet red bean paste has been made the same way by the bakers of Gyeongju. Each piece of bread is handmade and you can even watch the bread being made.
Price of Gyeongju Hwangnamppang bread:
Box of 20: 12,000 won
Box of 30: 18,000 won
Box of 48: 28,000 won
Gyeongju Chalborippang (찰보리빵)
Gyeongju Chalborippang (찰보리빵) bread is another piece of traditional Gyeongju food. The bread is made with local barley and it has a chewy, nutty taste. You will see shops selling this all around Gyeongju and it is worth trying whilst you are here.
Price of Gyeongju Chalborippang bread:
5,000 to 15,000 won per box.
Gyeongju Ssambap (쌈밥)
Ssambap (쌈밥) can be found in many regions of Korea, but each region has their own unique way of making it. It is a rice dish accompanied with vegetables, leaves, meat and other side dishes. To eat it, you put what you want to eat inside of the leaves, top it with various condiments and enjoy. In Gyeongju Ssambap ingredients are changed throughout the year to ensure that the dish is fresh and delicious all year round.
Price of Gyeongju Ssambap:
9,000~10,000 won per person.
Gyeongju Gyo-dong Beopju (법주)
Gyeongju Gyo-dong Beopju (법주) is a special liquor that started to be made in Gyeongju over 300 years ago. It is made with local rice and is a clear/ slightly white type of liquor made without any chemicals. Gyeongju Gyo-dong Beopju has an alcohol content of about 17% and takes about 100 days to make. Normally bottles are aged for over a year to ensure you get the best flavors and characteristics of the drink.
Price of Gyeongju Gyo-dong Beopju:
32,000-76,000 won (depending on size)