Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple

Location: Gyeongju, South Korea

Bell in BulguksaVisited: Sept, 2010 / March, 2011 / Oct, 2013

Site Type: Cultural

Inscribed: 1995

Background and Opinion:

This, Korea’s oldest UNESCO site, is actually a dual submission of ‘two temples’ which are adjacent to each other, the large Bulguksa Temple, and the smaller cave temple of Seokguram. Bulguksa was first built in the 8th century during the Silla period and serves as one of the few remaining examples of their architecture.

Seokgatap Pagoda
Dabotap Pagoda

One particularly impressive part of the temple is the set of two stone pagodas known as Seokgatap and Dabotap. While nothing has ever been found (officially) inside of Dabotap, the former had a number of relics dating back from the construction of these structures in 750 CE. One of these relics was a piece of the oldest known remaining woodblock print of the Mugujeonggwang Great Dharani Sutra. The two pagodas, the relics and five other structures account for a total of 8 national treasures in Bulguksa alone, 7 of which still remain on site today. Read more

Temple of Preah Vihear

Preah Vihear 2Location: Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia

Visited: August, 2014

Site Type: Cultural

Inscribed: 2008

Opinion and Background:

It is not every day that UNESCO causes a war, but that is exactly what happened in 2008 with the inclusion of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List. The history is long and complicated, but in short, reports coming from the UNESCO meeting in Quebec, Canada exacerbated a century long dispute between Thailand and Cambodia about where exactly their border lies. This led to a number of cross border clashes between 2008-2011, making Preah Vihear only recently accessible for tourists to see.

The Path to Preah Vihear Read more

Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range

Koyasan TombsVisited: June 15, 2014

Site Type: Cultural

Inscribed: 2004

Background and Opinion:

About two hours south of Osaka lies Mt. Koya, one of the end points in the Pilgrimage Routes of the Kii Mountain Range. For 1200 years, Koyasan has served as a sacred place to Japanese Buddhists.

Japanese paying their respects.
Japanese paying their respects.

One of the most interesting sites is the Okunion, which is the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism. The entire hike that leads to his shrine is a graveyard holding some of the most important figures in Japanese history.

Koyasan - Sacred Routes Kii Range

I never thought I would say this, but that is one beautiful cemetery. The whole place definitely sets the mood with its overgrowth, deep moss, and dense forest growing all around. It is something you have to see with your own eyes.

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