South Korea has a rich history that spans over thousands of years. Throughout this history, many temples were built during the reign of different kings. These temples provided a place for spiritual and cultural activities.
Many of these temples have been standstill in the country and some of them have been reconstructed many times. They provide a quiet place away from normal city life where you can be at peace.
The temples in South Korea are located near mountains or in forests that provide beautiful surroundings and trails for hiking. As Buddhism is the major religion in the country, most of them are Buddhist temples.
Best South Korean Temples
Many of these temples have a temple stay program in which you can participate. This program includes activities like chanting, meditation, prayers, meals in the traditional Buddhist style, work around the temple grounds, etc.
If you’re interested in visiting South Korea once in your life and are looking for the best temples to visit, here is the list that you can refer to. Remember that you are visiting them for devotion and not just for photoshoots.
1. Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple, also called the “Temple of the Buddha Land,” is a famous Buddhist temple in South Korea. It was first constructed in 528 A.D. It has a lot of cultural and historical importance.
Some notable attractions include the Main Hall (Daeungjeon), Seokgatap and Dabotap Pagodas, Gwaneumjeon Hall, Bell Pavilion, and Seokguram Grotto. In total, there are five areas at Bulguksa Temple.
The temple’s huge metal bell called the Emille Bell, is kept in the Bell Pavilion. When rung, it makes a deep, resonant sound and is a masterpiece of Korean metal casting.
Address: 385 Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do
2. Jogyesa Temple
The Jogyesa Temple is the center of the Jogye Order, which is one of the most important Buddhist groups in the country. The annual lantern festival in celebration of Buddha’s birthday also takes place at this temple.
The temple offers a serene and spiritual atmosphere. The main hall is the Main Dharma Hall or Daeungjeon. It holds the main altar and statues of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and other important figures.
The temple has a Buddhist Cultural Centre that teaches about Buddhism and Korean Buddhist art and culture through classes, talks, and shows. It is a good way to learn more about Buddhism.
Address: 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
3. Haeinsa Temple
Haeinsa Temple is one of Korea’s three largest temples and was founded during the third year of King Ae Jang’s reign by two monks Suneung and Ijung. Haeinsa Temple means “Ocean Seal Temple” in English.
The Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of Buddhist texts carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks, is the most important treasure at Haeinsa Temple. Janggyeong Panjeon Hall is the place where the Tripitaka Koreana is kept.
Gayasan Mountain provides a peaceful background for the Haeinsa Temple. On the temple grounds, there are beautiful gardens, quiet walking walks, and beautiful places to sit and meditate.
Address: 122, Haeinsa-gil, Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
4. Beomeosa Temple
Beomeosa Temple is an important Buddhist temple at the foothills of Geumjeongsan Mountain. Its English name is “Nirvana Fish Temple.” It is one of the three most famous temples, along with Haeinsa Temple and Tongdosa Temple.
The main hall of Beomeosa Temple is the Main Daeungjeon Hall, which has a big figure of Buddha inside. Iljumun Gate is a two-story wooden gate with Buddhist symbols and figures that leads to the temple.
Beomeosa Temple is one of the six biggest temples in Korea right now. The temple also takes part in the famous Temple Stay program. And there are four Korean Treasures and one Natural Monument there.
Address: 250, Beomeosa-ro, Geumjeong-gu, Busan
5. Tongdosa Temple
Tongdosa Temple is one of the most recognized temples in South Korea noted for the enshrined sari from Buddha (Buddha’s relics). Tongdosa Temple means “Passing Through to Enlightenment Temple,” in English.
The temple is renowned for housing sacred relics of the Buddha. The Sarira Stupa, located within the temple complex, is a structure that contains these precious relics.
Beopbojeon Hall is dedicated to Maitreya Bodhisattva, the future Buddha. The hall houses a statue of Maitreya Bodhisattva, along with other important Buddhist figures.
Address: 108, Tongdosa-ro, Yangsan-si, Gyeongsangnam-do
6. Bongeunsa Temple
Bongeunsa Temple was first founded in 794 A.D. The temple’s original name was Gyeongseongsa Temple, but it was later changed to Bongeunsa Temple. It’s a quiet place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
At Bongeunsa Temple, there is a big figure of Maaeyeoraejwasang, the future Buddha. There are a group of Vajra Warriors at the base of the figure to help protect the Buddha from harm.
The Sambulgyeong is a set of Buddhist texts that are kept safe at Bongeunsa Temple. The library of the temple is home to these scriptures, which are considered important cultural treasures.
Address: 531, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
7. Songgwangsa Temple
Songgwangsa Temple, which in English means “Spreading Pine Temple,” has a lot of historical, cultural, and spiritual importance. Along with Tongdosa Temple and Haeinsa Temple, it is one of the three jewels of Korean Buddhism.
The Main Daeungjeon Hall, also called the Main Buddha Hall, is the main hall of Songgwangsa Temple. Seungbojeon Hall is named for Jinul, the famous Buddhist monk and teacher who started the temple.
The entrance to the temple, called Cheonwangmun Gate, is decorated with figures of the four Heavenly Kings. It has a temple stay program that lets people try out monk life and do Buddhist rituals.
Address: 100, Songgwangsaan-gil, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
8. Golgulsa Temple
Golgulsa Temple is a unique Buddhist temple in South Korea that is known for its history and connection to Sunmudo, a traditional Korean martial art. The name of the Golgulsa Temple in English is “Bone Cave Temple.”
The Seokguram Grotto, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the best things to see near the Golgulsa Temple. The grotto houses a stone-carved statue of Buddha, representing the pinnacle of Korean Buddhist art.
Sunmudo is a unique form of martial arts created by the monks at Golgulsa Temple. Visitors can learn about this ancient type of martial arts by watching demonstrations or taking part in training sessions.
Address: 101-5, Girim-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do
9. Ssanggyesa Temple
Near the city of Hadong, in the beautiful Jirisan National Park, is the Ssanggyesa Temple, which offers a peaceful and mentally uplifting experience in a beautiful natural setting.
Inside Palsang-jeon Hall, eight detailed paintings show Seokgamoni-bul’s (The Historical Buddha) life. The Geum-dang Hall is the other shrine hall. It has an ancient pagoda inside its walls.
The Jirisan Museum shows the history and cultural artifacts of the temple and the area around it. The museum tells about the Buddhist history of the area and how important the Ssanggyesa Temple is.
Address: 59, Ssanggyesa-gil, Hadong-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
10. Magoksa Temple
Magoksa Temple has five Korean treasures and eight hermitages that are connected to the temple. It’s also where the Temple Stay program takes place. It is also on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Geumgang Gyedan, a stone platform at Magoksa Temple, is known for being a sign of the Diamond Realm in Buddhist philosophy. The platform has beautiful carvings and is used for Buddhist ceremonies and gifts.
At the temple’s entry, the Sacheonwangmun Gate, there are statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. Jeokgwangjeon Hall is devoted to Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light.
Address: 966, Magoksa-ro, Gongju-si, Chungcheongnam-do
So, these were some of the best temples to visit in South Korea. These temples are wonderful places to experience the region’s deep religious history, as well as its culture and landscape.
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