Construction began on this temple in 751 and took twenty-three years to complete. This was a huge undertaking with some eighty buildings. It was the centre for Silla Buddhism that prayed for the protection from foreign invasion.
But in 1593 the entire temple was burnt down by Japanese invaders and the site was used as a base for volunteer militia. Although the main buildings such as Daeungjeon Hall were rebuilt in 1767, it wasn’t until the later 1900s that the complex was completely restored. Excavations helped map out the ancient site and discover Unified Silla’s treasures.
To avoid some of the crowd, I walked behind Daeungjeon Hall to Bi-ro-jon (Vairocana Buddha Hall) that housed the golden bronze Vaiocana Buddha sitting statue and to Gwon-eum-jon at the back of the complex that housed the Bodhisattva.