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Gakwonsa Temple

Located close to Cheonan’s Downtown area is one of the best temples in Korea. Gakwonsa is home to the largest Buddha in Korea. On top of that there are plenty of beautiful statues, historical paintings, and amazing landscapes.

The area around Gakwonsa is very rural. When you get off the bus you will see many local delicious restaurants for the patrons. After walking a little farther down the street, you will arrive at the entrance to Gakwonsa. In front of the entrance there is a beautiful lake and a hiking trail to the mountain range behind Gakwonsa. To reach the entrance, you will have to walk up 206 stairs to reach the top. If you hate hiking or wish to drive, there is also an alternate entrance with ample parking on the other side of the temple.

The food restaurants

Stairs to entrance

After walking up the 206 steps,  you will arrive at the main attraction of Gakwonsa: the statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).  This massive statue is composed of 60 tons of bronze and is about 15 meters high. Located in front of the statue is a worship area where you can light candles and use mats for praying. Next to the statue is a small temple type building where you can purchase candles and some informational books about Gakwonsa

Amita-bul is more than enough reason to come and visit Gakwonsa but there are much more things to look at besides the statue.  If you walk a little past the statue of  Amita-bul you will find many beautiful temples.  The outside of the temples are decorated with floral patterns and paintings. There were 6 different temples located in Gakwonsa.  Some are for worship and some are living quarters/ offices for the monks who live there.

The first temple that I walked into was a worship temple. In the middle of the temple were 3 golden buddhas. Underneath the buddhas were various little statues, and on the floor there were mats for worship. The atmosphere of the temple with similar to church where you have to be quiet and respectful when entering. The monks were ok with taking pictures and filming as long as you are quiet and respectful.

The art located in the temple were all amazing.  The walls were decorated with multiple rare paintings only found at Gakwonsa, and the ceiling was filled with intricate floral patterns. In the back of the temple, there was a light up wall filled with little tablets that you could write messages on.

I highly recommend checking out Gakwonsa. The temple itself has a ton of interesting Korean history to explore. The building are filled with beautiful art and fun architecture. The scenery around Gakwonsa is perfect for a quick getaway from the urban life of downtown Cheonan. With only being located 5 minutes from downtown, there is no reason not to check out this amazing temple.

Video of my trip to Gakwonsa

Address: 245, Gagwonsa-gil, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do 충청남도 천안시 동남구 각원사길 245 (안서동)

How to get there?