Mysterious Geumgwanchong Tomb

gyeongju-royal-tombsSome of the grave mounds in Gyeongju City, Gyeongsangbukdo Province, South Korea

Geumgwanchong Tomb

The Geumgwanchong Tomb is a historic and popular ancient burial site with a significant relic as far as the discovery of historical sites in South Korea history.

In English, you can call the tomb as "Golden Crown Tomb," which is the literal translation of the tomb's name "geumgwan" gravesite.

Geumgwanchong or Gold Crown Tomb is located in modern-day Gyeongju City, the ancient capital of Silla Kingdom. The tomb was believed to date from the 5th or 6th century CE but only discovered in 1921 by accident.

The mystery as to who the tomb belongs to is still unanswered. However, the structure of the grave seems to be influenced by Buddhism. It is believed to be lacquered and varnished.

Particular speculation tips at the fact that the tomb belongs to some ruling king before or after King Ji-Jeung's reign in the early 6th century.

The Gold Crown Tomb (or Geumgwanchong) has one burial mound with a simple structure and does not have a unique artifacts room.

The Geumgwanchong Burial place is located in Noseo-dong, Gyeongju. The burial place belongs to a group of three tombs found in downtown Gyeongju in the Noseo-dong Tomb district.

Geumgwanchong Excavation

The excavation of the Geumgwanchong Burial place goes back to September 1921.

This incredible story and discovery of the tomb occurred when a civilian was leveling the ground to lay the parameter for his house construction.

Amongst the initial discoveries, the authorized excavators found a golden crown, which is considered the most precious item. For that very reason, the tomb owes its name to this first discovery--golden crown or "geumgwan" in the Korean language.

The royal crowns made during the Silla Dynasty period are lavish and exquisite. Some of them even weigh more than a kilogram.

Some historians tend to conclude that such crowns were only used during burial ceremonies.

It is said that the crowns were understood to be in use just for ceremonial and official celebrations. This makes sense as no king or queen would want to carry around a one-kilogram gold on their heads all day long, right?

The intricate metalworking of the crowns meant the truth that the goldsmiths throughout the Silla period had a sophisticated knowledge of working with gold.

The gold crown has intricate open metal-work inner cap which has images of bird wings symbolic of shamanism practice. The crown is simple but balanced and features heart, fish scales, and diamond T shapes ornamentation.

Aside from the gold crown, other treasures and artifacts discovered include ornaments such as gold earrings, belts, saddlers, bracelets, and earthenware, bronze vessels, gold and silver weapons, gilt-bronze plate armor, blue Indo-Pacific beads, and horse fittings, among many of them.

royal-tombsGold earring worm by royals - on exhibition at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul

The artifacts unearthed were believed to be belonging to the royals of the three kingdoms--Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla.

If you are one of those travelers who love the Indiana Jones movie series, you might be interested in traveling to Gyeongju to see in person this tomb and treasures.

By the way, most of the uncovered artifacts can be found either in Gyeongju City Museum or/and National Museum of Korea (in Seoul).

Now, if you are planning and need some travel tips, you can check out the travel guide below, including its link.

Getting to Gyeongju

If you are coming from the Seoul area (or in most places in South Korea), you can take any public transport directly to Gyeongju City, and ultimately to Geumgwanchong Tomb area.

Both trains and buses are the best choices when visiting Gyeongju. Here we go...

From Seoul to Gyeongju via Train (KTX)
Take a train from Seoul Station for Singyeongju Station. Since the station is outside the city, you need to take a taxi or bus (takes 15 minutes) to Gyeongju City, where you can explore its attractions, including the Geumgwanchong Tomb.

From Gyeongju Train Station, take Bus #50. You may get off at the bus terminal in the city. Then from the terminal, you can proceed to the tomb area by walking or to your hotel (great various accommodation types near the express bus and intercity bus terminals are very accessible).

The Express KTX Line operates 20 times per day. It takes 2 hours to reach Gyeongju Station. Booking a ticket can be done online and in advance.

Via Express Bus
Go to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal and take an express bus for Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal.

I hope you have a great journey to the province of the royals.

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