The Cheomsungdae – or Platform for Looking at the Stars – was built during the reign of Queen Seondeok (632 to 647 A.D.) of the Silla Dynasty in the ancient city of Gyeongju which is located approximately 329 km south-south-east from Seoul. According to the 1982 Guinness Book of World Records, it was the earliest astronomical observatory structure in the world. Today, it is recognized as the oldest observatory in East Asia.
This observatory still stands in the exact same location – without alteration and/or major damage – after a period of more than 1,300 years. The “then-and-now” photo shows students during a field trip to Cheomsungdae taken in 1935 – about 80 years ago. The now photo was taken 2 years ago in 2012.
♦ Value-Added Insight ♦
During the reign of Queen Seondeok, the city of Gyeongju was called Keum Sung which means the “Walled City of Gold” city. Silla – the Silla (also spelt as Shilla) Dynasty (57 B.C to 935 A.D.) was a very technologically advanced society in terms of its knowledge and skills of creating exquisite hand-made products, such as royal crowns, from gold.
If you’re visiting Korea and have a long 3-day weekend, it will be easy to find well organized and efficient group tours departing from any major hotel in Seoul that will take visitors down to Gyeongju where you may visit – and take your own photo of – this observatory and many other historic sites.
♦ Language Footnote ♦
- Cheomsungdae = 첨성대 (瞻星臺)
- Queen Seondeok = 선덕여왕 (善德女王)
- Silla = Shilla = 신라 (新羅)
- Gyeongju = Kyongju = 경주 (慶州)
- Keumsung = Kumsung = 금성 (金城)
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