September 16, 2023

Korea's Architectural Elegance Meets Autumn Splendor: Explore the 20 Most Beautiful Temples.(Part 2)


Venturing deeper into the heart of Korea, our journey to appreciate the magnificent interplay between nature's fall canvas and Korea's iconic temples continues. While the first part highlighted the allure of the top-ranking temples, this segment takes a closer look at some equally enchanting yet perhaps lesser-known treasures. Each of these spots, selected through a detailed Google Trend analysis, showcases the distinct charm that autumn bestows upon traditional architecture, making every visit an unforgettable memory. Dive in and discover temples that have, for centuries, stood as silent witnesses to the changing seasons, offering solace and serenity to those who seek it.

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Songgwangsa is a temple located in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, and it is said to have been established in 681 (13th year of King Munmu's reign) by Great Master Wonhyo. The name "Songgwang" carries a special meaning. 'Song' refers to eighteen monks, and 'Gwang' indicates the wide spread of Buddha's teachings. Hence, it implies a temple where eighteen monks widely disseminate Buddha's teachings. Songgwangsa, therefore, symbolizes a place where the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha, a key doctrine of the Jogye Order, are widely shared.

Although Songgwangsa boasts beautiful scenery throughout the year, it becomes particularly enchanting during the autumn foliage season. The mountains and forests surrounding the temple are painted with yellow and red leaves, creating a picturesque scene. The unique architecture within the temple, blending with nature, generates a captivating landscape.

One of the most beautiful spots for autumn leaves in Songgwangsa is Samcheongyo. The autumn leaves around this building will captivate your eyes. There is also a trail in the temple for you to enjoy the autumn leaves with the fragrant autumn scent. This location was also a filming site for the movie "Decision to Leave", adding an element of excitement in finding the filming spots during your visit.


Beobjusa, a Jogye Order temple, is nestled in the city of Andong, North Gyeongsang Province. The temple was established in 676 (10th year of Queen Seondeok's reign) by National Preceptor Doseon. The term "Beobju" means 'a place where Buddha's teachings are embraced and practiced', offering an ideal setting for quiet meditation and reflection amid serene nature.

Beobjusa is particularly beautiful in autumn when the foliage turns vibrant. The temple grounds are home to numerous ancient trees that have withstood thousands of years, and their leaves paint the temple area with spectacular autumn colors. This picturesque scenery provides unforgettable memories for its visitors.

The traditional temple buildings peeking through the trees, along with the fall foliage, create a harmony resembling a beautiful watercolor painting. The most noteworthy structure is Palsangjeon, a National Treasure No. 55. The autumn view from this building is truly breathtaking.

Furthermore, a maple trail is available at Beobjusa, allowing you to immerse yourself in the changes of autumn while walking among the maple trees. The sound of wind rustling through the leaves and the scent of autumn provide tranquility and rest for the visitors.


Gapsa, located in Goesan County, Chungcheongbuk-do, is said to have been established by the Goguryeo monk Uisang in 643 during the reign of King Seongdeok of Silla. The name Gapsa, which translates to 'the best among heaven, earth, and humans', is a testament to the temple's magnificence. The temple is famous for its many architectural structures set against the majestic and beautiful backdrop of Mt. Gap.

When autumn arrives, Gapsa transforms into a mesmerizing sea of fall colors. Dozens of trees around the temple change to shades of yellow, orange, and red, creating a picturesque landscape. The mountains surrounding the temple appear to be engulfed in waves of flaming foliage.

In particular, the 'Gapsa Duck Forest Road', a 1km path from the ticket office to the temple, is the perfect place to appreciate the charm of autumn. The path, beloved for its beautiful foliage, is also accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, making it an ideal spot for everyone to enjoy nature. 


Seonamsa Temple, situated on Jogyesan Mountain in Suncheon City, Jeollanam-do, is a renowned Jogye Order temple dating back to 529 AD. Listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2018 under "Sansa, Korean Mountain Temples," it was originally founded by Goguryeo monk Ado Hwasang and was initially called Haechonsa.

Seonamsa is home to a small pond named Samindang, whose surrounding autumn foliage offers breathtaking scenery to visitors. As you pass through the Iljumun Gate and enter the temple grounds, you will be greeted with a picturesque harmony of fall colors and temple buildings. This scenic beauty is one of the reasons why Seonamsa is particularly popular in the autumn season. It allows visitors to indulge in the serene beauty of the temple in its tranquil and peaceful atmosphere.

Seonamsa Temple offers a peaceful and serene environment, renowned for its stunning natural landscapes. With each season, the temple unveils diverse scenery, with the beautiful autumn foliage adding an extraordinary touch of charm during the fall season.


Hwaeomsa is a temple founded in 544 AD during the reign of King Seong of Baekje by an Indian monk named Yeon-gi. Its name originates from the Avatamsaka Sutra. As you pass through the Iljumun, Geumgangmun, and Cheonwangmun gates, entering the front yard of Bojeru, you'll appreciate the beauty of the temple layout centered around a large stone platform. The meditation and lecture halls are located below, while the Main Buddha Hall and Lecture Hall are situated above.

Visitors can enjoy beautiful fall foliage right from the entrance of the temple. Particularly, the ridge behind the Lecture Hall is beautifully adorned with russet autumn leaves. Unlike the vibrant foliage of Pia-gol Valley, the autumn leaves in Hwaeomsa Valley provide a more traditional and rustic feel. Through such natural landscapes, visitors can appreciate the harmony between nature and the temple while exploring the temple grounds. This experience is bound to leave a lasting, beautiful impression.


Daeheungsa is a temple established before the Goryeo era. After the Imjin War, it inherited the legacy of the monk Seosan and served as a center for the Seosan Sect from the 17th to 18th centuries, fulfilling a significant role for both Seon (Zen) and Gyo (doctrine) Buddhism. The temple is a crucial historic and academic site, housing 12 national cultural properties, nine designated cultural properties of the province, and tombstones of 13 generations of monks and teachers, including the 'Haenam Daeheungsa Bokmireukam Maaeyeoraejwasang,' a national treasure.

The path to Daeheungsa is flat, allowing for a pleasant stroll while enjoying the surrounding scenery. Positioned at the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula in Duryunsan, Haenam, Daeheungsa might not be widely known, but its autumn foliage boasts an unrivaled beauty. Duryunsan is famous for the Daeheungsa Forest Path, also known as the 'Ten Li Forest Path' or the 'Nine-Bend Forest Path.'

In autumn, this Ten Li Forest Path transforms into a vibrant display of fall colors, creating a picturesque scene. Visitors to Daeheungsa usually follow this forest path into the temple, then climb Duryunsan. As you move towards the main temple and approach Daeungjeon, the depth of the autumn colors intensifies. As you wander around the temple grounds, you can't help but marvel at the beauty. Thus, Daeheungsa itself serves as a beautiful painting coming to life.


Seoknamsa, a Buddhist temple in Ulju County, Ulsan Metropolitan City, was founded by monk Doyi between 809 and 826 AD during King Heondeok of Silla's reign. Named after its location on the southern side of Gajisan mountain, the temple includes key structures such as Daeungjeon Hall and Seokga Pagoda, the latter being a national treasure reflecting the characteristics of the Silla era.

From the ticket office to the temple is a 700m path that takes visitors through a tunnel of trees full of vibrant autumn foliage. This area, offering the ever-changing beauty of the seasons, is an ideal space for visitors and is widely known as a popular tourist attraction.

As you walk along the tunnel of autumn-colored trees, the stone image of Amitabha Buddha and Cheongungyo Bridge come into view. The bridge, connecting beautiful valleys, is a frequented spot due to its perfect photogenic appeal.

The views on the opposite side of Cheongungyo are equally stunning. Regardless of the camera angle, this location is brimming with beauty and ideal for that perfect shot. The landscape spreading out before and behind Cheongungyo Bridge is a tourist attraction in itself. The seasonal changes and natural beauty experienced here leave unforgettable memories for visitors.

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