Hwangnyongsa monastery, (in) Kyŏngju, Gyeongsanguk-do, KR

Raw data

Hwangnyongsa no longer exists, but once stood 150 yards to the west of Bunhwangsa temple in Gyeongju, which boasts the oldest pagoda dating to the Silla Kingdom.

“Hwangnyongsa, the state temple of Silla, was especially grand, with grounds 285 m sq.” It was divided into three compounds with a 9-story wooden pagoda in the central one. Construction began in 553. A pillar from the ruins has been found that bears an inscription claiming that Chinese monk Yuanxiang told Silla monk Chajang that Silla would win over its Korean neighbors if such a tall pagoda was built. Queen Sondok therefore commissioned the pagoda, which was constructed in a year by Abiji, a master craftsman of the Paekche kingdom, and 200 craftsmen under Ikan Yongch’un. According to the Samguk yusa, Abiji supervised the building of the pagoda as an outside specialist.
Some scholars believe that a single year is insufficient time in which to build a pagoda of such monumental size. Construction probably began before Chajang’s return from China; Donald McCallum proposes the late 630s or early 640s. The pagoda was 80 m in height “in a seven-bay format,” each about 3.15 m wide." - McCallum (2009: 40-1)

"Hwangnongsa [is attributed] to King Chin-hung in 554 CE, who ordered it to be built to the east of his Half Moon Fortress. “The main hall was 155 feet long and 55 feet wide. Ten pedestal stones were used at the front, and three flat stones supported three images of the Buddha inside.” Hwangnyongsa’s pagoda was the largest in Korea, measuring 224 feet high. Resting on sixty foundation stones, it extended over an area of 6084 square feet with eight supporting pillars made of stone on each of its four sides. It took 17 years to build.
Priest Wongwang, who had studied in Tang China, resided at Hwangnyongsa and devised a famous code of five Buddhist and Confucian precepts, adopted by the Hwarang “flower youth” who trained in Buddhism and military arts, and who upheld state Buddhism in Silla." - “Asian Historical Architecture: Hwangnyongsa temple site, Gyeongju, Korea, South” http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/koreasouth/gyeongju/hwangnyongsa.php

"The Samguk yusa describes “sixteen-foot” Buddhist icons, such as the changnyuk sang, in Hwangnyongsa’s Golden Hall. Foundation stones with large depressions provide some evidence for a large scale triad of Buddhas on lotus pedestals.
“The construction of large monasteries in capital cities in the Three Kingdoms period turned into a truly significant government task. The monasteries became national institutions, receiving direct support and patronage from the palace and aristocracy … Until the ninth century, therefore, monasteries were mostly built in the cities.” - Pak & Whitfield (2002: 12-3, 152)
Input by: Lizbeth H. Piel, Dec 14, 2010

“Gangyo 元暁 Wonhyo; an eminent Kegon scholar in Silla (Shiragi 新羅), Korea; 617-686. […] While living at Huang-lung ssu* 皇龍寺 (Koryuji) in the capital of Silla, he lectured on Mahayana sutras.”

Input by: tmciolek, Feb 17, 2013

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 26 Apr 2013

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Hwangnyongsa monastery, KR.

General location of the Hwangnyongsa monastery, KR.
Lat 35.83071 Long 129.21632
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2010.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Hwangnyongsa 황룡 사지 (皇龍寺址). Alternative English spelling: Hwangnyong-sa

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Korea: Gyeongsanguk-do

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 35.83071 Long 129.21632 - based on visual identification of the site in maps and satellite imagery, maps.google.com - tmciolek, 15 Dec 2010.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

  • Kyŏngju (Gyeongju)

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • 553 - McCallum (2009: 40)
  • Late 630s or early 640s - McCallum (2009: 41)
  • MBM chrono-tag 0533-66c - tmciolek 26 Apr 2013
  • 0533-66c 0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32p dated-ex

12. Date-intermediate

  • Gangyo 元暁 Wonhyo (617-686) has lived and taught at the Huang-lung ssu* 皇龍寺 (Koryuji)


  • MBM chrono-tag 0667-99c 0700-32p - tmciolek 26 Apr 2013

13. Date-late

  • [missing data]

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • Archaeological, documents

16. Additional notes

  • [missing data] (incl. details of the size of the monastic population)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

end of page

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License