Capital of the Silla Dynasty for nearly a thousand years, one of Gyeongju’s most impressive remnants from the Silla Kingdom is its otherwordly royal burial grounds that are scattered around Daereungwon Tumuli Park in the historic center. The manicured park contains 23 grassy mounds where Silla royalty were buried over a millennium ago, along with all their earthly treasures.
Cheonmachong tumuli is the only royal burial ground in South Korea that is open to the public. Built in honor of an unknown king from the 5th century, head inside to see some of the 11,000 treasures which were discovered when the mound was excavated in 1974. Cheonmachong is Korean for Heavenly Horse, and the tomb gets its name from the first pre-Silla painting to be found in Korea -- a galloping white horse with wings on its feet, found in Cheonmachong during excavations.
Inside the tomb, you can see many of the ancient king’s treasures, from his gold crown, now a national treasure, to girdles decorated with jade, lavish swords, pottery, and gold rings for every one of the king’s fingers.
How were these surreal tumuli made? Servants of the Silla Dynasty would pile stones and dirt atop the king’s wooden coffin until a huge grass mound was created, over which grass would grow. A peaceful park to wander through, in the early evening, classical music plays from speakers dotted around the park.
Admission to Daereungwon Tumuli Park costs 1,500 W for adults. There is no extra fee to enter Cheonmachong tomb. The park is open in summer daily 9am - 6pm, and in winter daily from 9am - 5pm. Local buses 10, 11 or 70 will bring you to the park’s front entrance. No photos are allowed inside Cheonmachong tomb. Even though it may be tempting, it’s disrespectful to climb the tumuli.