Palgongsan Natural Park is the largest, and one of the most popular hikes in Deagu. Just 20km northeast of the city center, the contrast between landscapes is extreme. The roars of the fourth largest metropolitan city in Korea become whispers beyond the mountains soaring over the city. You get the best of both worlds with the diversity of Deagu. As you climb to the top of the 1192 meters, you will find captivating views of luscious green hilltops and serene silence, a far cry from the bustling city that seems to have disintegrated beyond your site.
You have many options when it comes to hiking Palgongsan. There are three main peaks, Birobong being the highest, along with Dongbong and Seobong. Each district of the mountain host’s cultural treasures and historical sites that attract people from all over the country to come and witness these significant assets themselves. Gatbawi at the forefront of these treasures.
The stone Buddha four meters in height resting 850 meters above see level is famous all over Korea, with its unusual stone hat (“gat” meaning traditional Korean hat, “bawi” meaning rock). Legend has it that this stone Buddha will grant you one wish in your lifetime if it is sincere. This may be incentive to keep going as your legs ache and your lungs burn from the hundreds of steep steps you must climb to get there. That said, it’s certainly worth it to see that view…
From there you can head on up to the peak of the mountain about seven km from this point. This route is one of many that you’ll find both challenging and intriguing. A brief lesson in Korean history while getting your heart rate up is always a good way of getting to know your surroundings here.
You’ll pass historical treasures and beautiful architecture on your path, with stunning temples built in the Silla Dynasty nestled through the mountain park including Donghwasa and Buinsa Temples– a perfect place to take a breather and an obligatory mountain selfie.
“Where Hope Blooms”
There is huge significance bound to Palgongsan, steeped in history dating back thousands of years. Buinsa Temple for one, is connected with the life of the Silla Queen Seodeok. The mountain park is important to the people of Deagu, as it has been there to protect its people for thousands of years. During the Japanese and Korean Wars people found refuge in the mountain, which was a great form of shelter to those that lost their homes or had to flee. It has also seen and heard from many noteworthy scholars, poets and writers alike that all made their mark on the mountain.
King Seol Chong, who in fact created the first writing system of the Silla Dynasty (57BC – 935AD), as well as Goryeo monk Yi Hwang who wrote the oldest remaining Korean history book, both highly valued Palgongsan and found inspiration from the mountain. Kim Yu-Sin, who played a huge role in the unification of the three Kingdoms, was said to have found his courage and strength through the discipline he found on Mount Palgongsan.
It is said to have spiritually healed people that suffered from mental and internal angst, and many people found refuge not only physically but also mentally on the mountain. Palgongsan had the gift of giving peace of mind, and stability to all its people. The great Silla Buddhist thinker Wonhyo trained himself for ten years on Palgongsan, which to me says a lot about what nature can teach you.
For more of an educational visit, you can go to the Bangjja Brassware Museum that hosts thousands of ancient bronze artifacts, giving you a taste once again of Koreas past. There are many buildings that offer unique experiences to impress you on your visit to Palgongsan. A meditation center, museums on history, Buddhism and art offer a glimpse of all that Korea represents, while exploring the best of it’s features – beautiful towering mountains and breathtaking landscapes.
The history of Korea is deeply rooted in the mountain, and you could go back numerous times to see new things and find new paths. What ever your intention while visiting Palgongsan, it won’t disappoint. Bring a camera, some water and enthusiasm because you’re in for a day of memorable moments and captivating scenes.