When I had finished my visit to Bulguksa Temple I caught a bus back to the central part of Gyeongju where I’d be spending the rest of my day before returning to Busan. I got off the bus near Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond. This was once a royal residence during the times of the Silla Kingdom and was built in the year 674 but when the Silla Kingdom collapsed a few hundred years later the palace was abandoned and destroyed. In 1974 reconstruction began and while most of the palace buildings are still gone there are a few pavilions that have been restored, along with the pond.
The centerpiece of the palace grounds is Wolji Pond, which used to be known as Anapji Pond. It seems like most of the palace restoration efforts went into this pond and it’s a really nice place to walk around. At night the pond is illuminated and if I were staying in Gyeongju I would have come back for some nighttime photography. After completing my circuit around the pond I left the palace grounds to continue my sightseeing around town.
Anapji was originally located near the palace of Silla called Banwolseong. It is written in Samguk Sagi : “During the era of King Munmu, a new pond was made in the palace and flowers and birds flourished in this pond”. There is also mention of a royal reception held by King Gyeongsun in 931, when Silla was already crumbling. After the fall of Silla, the pond fell into disrepair for many centuries. The name As part of the renovation project of historic sites in Gyeongju, Anapji was dredged and rebuilt in 1974. The long-term excavation project from March 1975 to December 1986 released a large number of relics from the pond. Research revealed that the pond had been surrounded by stone walls, and that 5 buildings had been standing on the pond’s west to south sides. Waterway systems were also detected. Almost 33,000 pieces of historic relics were excavated from the site. An abundance of unique and extraordinarily designed roof tiles, architectural materials, pottery, gilt bronze figures of Buddha, jewelry, accessories and other everyday items were discovered, offering an insight to Buddhist art and everyday life in Silla.