Gimhae National Museum and Royal Tombs

Trip Start Aug 16, 2013
Trip End Aug 25, 2013

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gimhae is an often overlooked satellite city of Busan that has a rich historical legacy. It was a seat of the medieval Gaya Kingdom and has preserved its heritage of Royal Tombs and showcases its past in the city's National Museum. 

During our visit for the Gimhae Gaya Festival (see previous entry) we were able to visit many of these sites. The first was the Royal Tomb Museum, located in the middle of the festival area along the river. The easiest way to reach this is to take the Gimhae Light Rail to King Suro's Tomb Station then cross to the east side of the river.

The museum had lifesize warriors in traditional battle dress as well as a mounted warrior. There were detailed exhibits on the making of the tombs, showing how they are excavated, items laid inside, burial, and completed tomb mounds. 

There was also in interesting 3D image that would change from a skeleton to a noble lady as you walked across, showing how the skeletal remains were that of a noble person.   

On the main street with the east/west Gyeongwongyo Bridge is a large outdoor bell. This looks more like a UFO from the distance and is close to the tourist info office where you can get english guide maps. I had already picked one up when I'd seen one on other trips. 

Just north behind a public school is the Gimhae National Museum. This is the next light rail station north also called Museum Station. Again, cross the river and go the opposite side from the Homeplus store. 

The museum is actually two buildings, a special exhibit building, and the main museum building. The special exhibit building had childrens displays on the ground floor, and some armor, jewellry and pottery on the second floor. There was also an art exhibition. 

We thought this was the national musuem and were confused when the photo in our map showed a large circular building, which this building did not resemble from the outside. The actual National Musuem is behind the exhibition building. 

Both museums are free and the main building had an english speaking receptionist. This building had more detailed exhibits from the Gaya period. There were spearheads, royal crowns, jewellry. giant pots and armor. ( )
The rear of the museum is a park, and if you navigate it properly climbing uphill you can make your way across to the Royal Tomb of Queen Suro. She was from Ayuta in India who married the King in 48AD. 

The tomb is a closed off round mound but the complex had many decoratively coloured buildings. A short walk down was the Gimhae Hyanggyo Confucian School but it was locked during our visit. There is one next to my school which is also locked most of the time. 

We then made our way further south to the Royal Tomb of King Suro. He was born in 42AD and founded the Garak Kingdom. (This means he married the Queen when he was six years old??). My brochure also says he died in 199AD which makes him 150 years old??? 

The Kings Tomb complex was quite interesting. There was an outer entrance with painted doors. This leads to a giant red arch leading the path to the next entrance doorway. This was a double doorway with a second floor viewing platform above. 

Finally inside were the royal tombs themselves. This was a giant earth mound but had four stone figures and six animals placed in pairs watching each other along the path from the entrance doorway. This has something to do with spirits entering and leaving along the pathway. 

Just outside the Kings Royal Tomb is a traditional hanok village with alpine style wood homes. We didnt have time to go in but thats something for a future visit. ( ) 

There is quite a bit still to do in Gimhae. There is a stone wall gate near the confucian school which we didnt see. Gimhae is famous for ceramics and there is ceramics museum further out from the centre ( )  

Also there was the Astronomical Observatory we could see perched atop a mountain ( ) as well as mountain fortress wall you can hike. Finally a Gaya History Theme park where a tv series about King Suro was filmed.

Having discovered all these new sights I'll certainly be back to explore at some future point. All of the sights were free and its very easy to tack this onto a Busan weekend as the Gimhae Light Rail connects to the Busan Metro. 

The english Gimhae Tourist website is  


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crowdywendy on

I really like the 3D skeleton. Interesting how it came out in your pic.

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