The former capital of the Baekje Kingdom, Gongju is a historically-rich city watched over by the Gongsan Fortress. It’s home to excellent museums and fascinating archaeological sites, as well as a charismatic 7th-century temple.
Things to do
No visit to Gongju is complete without exploring the 1,500-year-old mountaintop fortress of Gongsan that served as the site of the ancient Baekje Royal Palace. Explore the small Yeongeunsa Temple that was built during King Sejo’s reign while soaking up the magnificent views of the Geumgang River.
Make a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Songsan-ri Burial Mounds, a series of seven Baekje-era tombs discovered during the Japanese occupation. Admire the fire-breathing dragon painted on one of the tombs, as well as a full-scale replica of King Muryeong’s tomb.
Learn about the ancient cultures of South Chungcheong at the Gongju National Museum, just north of King Muryeong’s tomb. In addition to housing numerous National Treasures, it features 6th-century swords and jewellery crafted from metal and gold uncovered from King Muryeong’s tomb.
Explore the atmospheric halls, pagodas and pavilions of Magok-sa, a 7th-century Buddhist temple nestled on the slopes of Taehwasan mountain. Wander across the “mind-washing bridge” to admire the beautiful calligraphy of the Main Buddha Hall, then follow one of the hiking trails past small hermitages through the surrounding hills.
Gongju is around 1.5 hours by train from the centre of Seoul and three hours from Incheon International Airport. Gongju is connected to surrounding cities and towns by regular buses, while most of its attractions are easily accessible on foot or bicycle.
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