Monday, July 11, 2005
One of my favourite structures in all of Korea. I squashed it down a bit, so it looks shorter and fatter than it normally does...
Cheomseongdae means "star gazing tower". It was built in around 647 AD. The observatory is built out of 362 pieces of cut granite which represent the 362 days of the lunar year. As can be seen from the photograph, it has 27 circular layers of stones (Queen Seondeok was the 27th ruler of the Shilla Dynasty) surmounted by a square structure. 12 of the layers are below the window level and 12 are above. There are 12 large base stones set in a square, with three stones on each side. These sets of 12 may symbolize the months of the year.
The tower is 5.7 meters wide at the base and 9.4 meters tall, and filled with dirt up to the level of the window. Its construction style parallels that used at the Bunhwangsa Temple in Gyeongju and was likely a product of contact with the Tang dynasty of China, with which Queen Seondeok allied her country.
Gyeongju is a really interesting town, there are so many things to see. Especially for a history nut like myself. I wish Korea would promote itself more and then others could see these kinds of amazing things...
San Nakji for President!