Bunhwang-sa Temple
of Gyeongju's  Nak-san  (a.k.a. Nang-san)
Main Hall remaining of Bunhwang-sa, named the Bogwang-jeon  [Jewel-Luminescence Hall]
no other historic wooden structure remains here
Bunhwang-sa  ["Fragrant Emperor Temple"] and Hwangryong-saji [Yellow-Dragon Temple-Site] of are in
open fields at the NW foot of
Nang-san, north of the front slopes of Nam-san, just east of the Banwol Palace
Hill.  Bunhwang-sa is just on the south side of the highway going from downtown out to Bomun Lake.  It was
founded in 634 CE by the order of Queen Seondeok
(r. 632-647) and was originally much larger than today.  
Both great master-monks Jajang-yulsa and Wonhyo-daesa are known to have lived here.  It was tragically
destroyed in the 1200s by Mongol invaders, rebuilt in the late 1700s in the reign of King Yeongjo.
Bunhwang-sa's famous Mojeon-seoktap  [Faux-brick stone pagoda], National Treasure #30 and one of
Gyeongju's primary tourist stops.    
It looks to be built of bricks but those are actually hand-carved slabs of black andesite
(igneous, volcanic, rare-in-Korea) stone -- just think how much labor that involved!  This was done in imitation of the then-
new brick pagodas of China's Tang Dynasty, as missionary-monks from Tang described them to Queen Seondeok.
Scholars think that there were eight stone dog-ish Lion statues, two flanking each doorway, but by the time this pagoda was
refurbished in the 1970s only the one above remained of the the originals;  they created 3 replicas and placed them on the 4 corners.
"Diamond-hard" Guardians  [geumgang-yeoksa]  at the doorways
interior of the Bogwang-jeon
the famous portrait of Wonhyo-daesa
(possibly the oldest extant painting of Korea's
most famous and popularly-revered monk)
1776 statue of  Yaksa-Yeorae
(a.k.a. Medicinal Buddha,  Bhaisajya-guru, Sakyamuni Buddha in his
Healer-of Sickness mode) -- this is Korea's best-known statue of him
ticket 2011
inside the eastern doorway, a standing Buddha statue can barely be seen (below-right)
close-up of the eastern Buddha
a broken Bodhisattva-with-nimbus statue in the garden
the antique Sanshin painting of Bunhwang-sa, in the leftt-rear corner of the
Bogwang-jeon -- best shots that I could get, as it is covered in reflective glass.
It is a notable classic, one of the only 7 found in Korea so far where the Mountain-King is depicted
reading a book
(Buddhist, Shamanic or Confucian scripture...? the records of Dan-gun...?) -- a motif that is
only found in this Gyeongju~Andong aristocratic-confucian scholarship-venerating region.  Another
rare feature of this excellent icon is that he has black hair instead of the usual white, even in his
elongated eyebrows, so then appearing younger than typical (or more-immortal, like
stone artworks (modern reproductions of famous Gyeongju treasures) seen
along the highway leading east from this temple towards Bomun Lake
It was probably originally nine stories tall -- maybe the largest all-stone structure in East Asia in the 7th Century!
The interior was once used to store and study Buddhist scriptures -- but the upper-stories caved-in, filling it with
rubble (some of which was used to create a simple roof in the early 20th Cen).   This is the oldest Buddhist
Pagoda of the Shilla Kingdom whose construction-date has been confirmed.
This octagonal well-head is known as the Hoguk-yong-byeoneo-jeong  [호국용변어정, Protecting-Nation
Dragons-morphed-to-Fish Well]  or sometimes called
Samnyong-byeoneo-jeong [3 Dragons etc].
It is found on the southern side of the Bunhwang-sa compound, was part of the original construction, is 70 cm tall, and is
now designated as Gyeongsangbuk-do Cultural Property #9.  The octagonal shape with originally-circular base represents
the "Eight Noble Truths" of Buddhism in context of Heaven.

According to a myth recorded in the 12th-Cen Samguk-yusa, there were three dragons protecting Gyeongju living in
[East Pond] or Cheong-ji [Blue Pond] (under the Daoist Ohaeng geomantic system the symbolic animal of the East is a Blue
Dragon; the site of this pond is no longer known, but might be where Bomun Lake is today).  Two ill-intentioned missionary-
monks from the Tang Dynasty visited Shilla in 795, and they miraculously transformed those guardian-dragons into small fish
and captured them in a bamboo cage, smuggling them away to China.  The next day three noble-appearing women, identifying
themselves as wives of the dragons, came to King Wonseong and asked him to have their husbands retrieved.   The king
immediately sent a few of the best of his monks and soldiers on an expedition to bring back the dragons.  When they
successfully did-so, the king assigned them (still in the forms of small fish) to live in this sacred well here in Bunhwang-sa.
other important relics of this temple include 3.6m-high Danggan-jiju twin flagpole support stones with unique
turtle-shaped bases, and several stone Buddhist statues now kept in the Gyeongju National Museum.
a photo taken in 1914!