Bongjeong-sa 봉정사 鳳停寺 [Phoenix Bower Temple]
A significant ancient temple located at the southeastern foot of Cheondeung-san (天登山, Heavenly Lantern Mountain)
within Andong City (安東市) of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province (慶尙北道). It was founded at the beginning of the Unified
Silla Dynasty (統一新羅, 668-935) by Master Uisang (義湘) in 672 during the reign of King Munmu (文武王, r. 661-681).
According to a recorded myth, Uisang selected this site for the temple after a folded-paper phoenix that he threw from
Mt. Taebaek-san Buseok-sa (太白山浮石寺, half a province away), landed here at the foot of Cheondeung-san. In
1972, during renovation work on the Geungnak-jeon (極樂殿, Extreme Bliss or Paradise Hall), an inscription was found
on one of the beams stating that the temple was founded by Uisang's disciple Neungin Daedeok. This confirms it as
one of the Hwa-eom Sipchal (華嚴十刹, Ten Monasteries of the Avatamsaka or Flower Garland Sect) established by
Master Uisang and his lineage, which were the main centers for cutting-edge philosophical thought during the Unified
Silla Dynasty period. It continued to be important during the Goryeo Dynasty, but declined during the Joseon Dynasty,
including being partially burned down in the Imjin Waeran (壬辰倭亂, 1592-98 Japanese Invasion).
Bongjeong-sa still contains several precious heritage treasures, including that Geungnak-jeon which is designated as
National Treasure #15 and dates back to the 14th century, reputed to be the oldest extant wooden structure in Korea
(although it underwent extensive repairs in the early 2000s, putting the authenticity of that claim into doubt). Its Dae-
ung-jeon (大雄殿, Great Hero Hall) is designated as National Treasure #311. The Hall of Past and Present (古今堂) is
Treasure #449, the Hwaeom Hall (華嚴講堂) and its Vulture Peak Assembly Painting (靈山會相圖) is Treasure #1614,
the Ever Lasting Pavilion (萬歲樓) is Local Cultural Tangible Property #325) and the Samcheung Seoktap (三層石塔, 3-
story Stone Pagoda) is Local Cultural Tangible Property #182. Many tourists visit this picturesque temple and its two
lovely hermitages, as it is located between Andong and the famous Hahoe Aristocratic Village.