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Once the capital of the Shilla Kingdom, today Gyeongju is the historical center of South Korea. The Shilla Kingdom came into power around A.D. 57 and conquered the Baekje and Goguryeo kingdoms in 660 and 668, respectively, ruling as the Unified Shilla Kingdom until 935, when the Goryeo Dynasty took power. A large number of sites from that time remain in the city today.

The entire city's historic areas were designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2000. This is a picture of the Tumuli Park (Royal Burial Grounds)

If you see only one tomb park in South Korea, this should be it. Tumuli Park contains 23 of the over 200 royal tombs found in Gyeongju. At times, the sense of history, and of secrets buried along with the royals, is almost palpable in the quiet between the large grass-covered mounds. Of the various round burial mounds only the 13m-high Cheonmachong (Heavenly Horse) Tomb has been excavated (in 1974).
The excavation of this tomb, presumed to be from the 5th century, revealed over 10,000 treasures inside, including a well-preserved ceremonial saddle piece made of painted bark stitched with leather. The tomb is named after a painting of a galloping horse -- the first pre-Shilla Dynasty painting found in Korea -- and is open for you to see how it was constructed and how the artifacts were arranged.

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Additional Photos by Kris Verhoeven (verswe) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 61 W: 3 N: 1207] (7322)
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