Written by Carlota Smith
Amidst the busy and industrialized cities of Korea abound peaceful and calm destinations such as the country’s captivating and mystical Buddhist temples. In and nearby Gwangju alone, there are five famous and well-known destinations you can readily visit during the day besides the smaller or rather secluded private temples all over the province.
A quick drive to one of these temples can provide one with a calm but invigorating experience. Visiting these temples is inexpensive yet truly helpful for many tourists; aside from learning a bit about the Buddhist culture, one can also feel the quiet, serene, and peaceful breeze.
This temple is found within Gwangju. It is very accessible to commuters; buses bound for the temple are easily found. Tourists will not only get a taste of the cool breeze and the smell of pine trees and different flowers but also a glimpse of the core of Buddhist history and art. Cable rides are also available for those who want to explore the mountainside.
Address: 177 Jeungsimsa-gil, Ullim-dong, Dong-gu, Gwangju
Wonhyosa is located in Geumgok-dong, Buk-gu, and is a seemingly hidden haven for many peace-loving folks. Being in the city makes it a common place for older people and those who seek the gentle breeze and serene surroundings to gather for a respite from the busy city life that surrounds the temple on all sides. The uphill terrain and location of the temple gives viewers an uplifting feeling.
Address: 846 Geumgok-dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju
Songgwangsa is located in Suncheon and is yet another peaceful destination for many tourists and locals. Most people enjoy the soft and gentle pine breeze and atmosphere that only the fortress can offer. Songgwangsa, also known as the Spreading Pine Temple or Piney Expanse Monastery, is a home for the Zen practice of Buddhism and is among the oldest of the many Zen temples in Korea. Surrounded by many pine trees, the name literally describes the environment surrounding the temple.
Address: 12 Sinpyeong-ri, Songgwang-myeon, Suncheon-si, Jeollanam-do
This temple is the home of Buddhist monk education in the Jeolla provinces. It is in Bukha-myeon, Jangseong County. The tale of the enlightened white sheep is one that surrounds the founding of this calm and peaceful place in the early time of the Baekje Kingdom two millennia ago. Any visitor who wishes for a historical and peaceful get-away can get his or her heart’s desire after a trip to this beautifully placed temple nestled among brooks and thick stands of trees.
Address: 1236 Baekyang-ro, Bukha-myeon, Jangseong-gun, Jeollanam-do
Unjusa is 40 km south of Gwangju and is on the outskirts of Hwasun County. Strategically located in the heart of Jeollanam-do, the place abounds with stone pagodas and many stone carvings of Buddha, which are popular and much sought-after by visitors. Most people also enjoy the traditional tea served here, and the uphill temples, which provide a short yet toning workout for strollers.
Address: 20-1 Daecho-ri, Doammyeon, Hwasun-gun, Jeollanam-do