It may be hard to imagine, but just a couple decades ago, much of Gangnam was just small villages and rice paddies. Development of the area didn't start until the late 1960's and didn't really take off until the run-up to the 1988 Olympics when massive office towers and apartment blocks started popping up near Jamsil Olympic Stadium. In the midst of this sea of development, on the side of a green hill, continues to stand the old Bongeunsa Temple. This temple was built all the way back in 794, founded by the highest ranking monk of the time, Yeonhui, and has played an important role in the development of Korean Buddhism throughout its history.
For years Bongeunsa Temple was the site of national examinations for incoming monks and it hosts a number of historic Buddhist cultural properties, such as the 81 volumes of woodblock carvings of the Flower Garland Sutra by 19th-century monk Yeonggi, works by one of Joseon's greatest calligraphers, Kim Jeong-hee, and the three wooden statues of Buddha, which are listed as national treasures. However, the most prominent part of Bongeunsa is the Mireuk Daebul, a 23 meter high stone statue of the Maitreya Buddha that was built by Master Yeongam between 1986 and 1996.
Due to damage caused by the Korean War, many of the buildings on the temple site are in fact reconstructions of previous pieces of architecture, and parts of the temple continue to be reconstructed and renovated. Nevertheless, the juxtaposition of this old temple with the Gangnam skyline is incredibly unique and attracts many tourists looking to get a shot of this interesting mix of Korea's past and present. Foreign tourists can get an even deeper look into the history and unique character of the temple through a special temple stay program conducted entirely in English.
|Company Name||Bongeunsa Temple (봉은사)|
|Category||Outdoors & Adventure Others Tour & Sightseeing|
531 Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea 531
Take Line 9 to Bongeunsa Station and go out Exit 1. -> Walk straight about 60 meters and you will see Bongeunsa Temple on your right.
Take Line 7 to Cheongdam Station and go out Exit 2. -> Walk straight about 500 meters then turn left at the next intersection. -> Walk straight about 120 meters. Bongeunsa Temple will be on your right.
Take Line 2 to Samseong Station and go out Exit 6. -> Walk straight about 450 meters then cross the street at the intersection. -> Turn left and walk straight about 120 meters. Bongeunsa Temple will be on your right.