Not quite 10 meters tall, it used to be the observatory of Silla and its shape is a harmony of straight and curved lines, looking somewhat like a bottle, with stones laid on the top in the shape of a hash symbol. Even though it is quite small, it is amazing that it has been standing for over 1,000 years in the palace grounds.
The background of Cheomseongdae is one of agriculture where the movements of the moon, sun and stars dictated the cycle of sowing and reaping.
Also, in ancient societies, astrology was deeply connected to the governing of people and the rise and fall of kingdoms.
In fact the south face of Cheomseongdae looks toward the Great Bear constellation, which was used, in conjunction with the relative positions of other constellations, to govern affairs of state. The name of the street around the south face is Bidugil (First Street).
It was built during the reign of Queen Seondeok and is the oldest observatory in Asia, showing the advanced level of science for that time.
It has titled toward the northeast slightly now, but is amazingly well preserved.
In Samgukyousa (a historical record of the history of Baekjae, Goguryeo and Silla) it was recorded that Cheomseongdae was built during the reign of Queen Seondeok,
and in Shinjeungdongukyeojiseunglam (a geographical treatise written in the Choseon Dynasty) it says that people go up and down this building of 19 cheok (1 cheok is the length of a man's arm (about 30.3 cm)) in height to observe the stars.
However, today Cheomseongdae seems very small and being on a plain and with a small entrance, there is doubt as to Cheomseongdae's function.
It might have been a ceremonial platform or architecture related to Buddhism.
The canola blossoms and lotus fields across the street from Cheomseongdae make a spectacular backdrop.
It is great to just walk or cycle around town to see the elegance and majesty of Silla. Cheomseongdae is a great starting point for a bicycle tour of Gyeongju.
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