Bongeunsa Temple is another popular tourist destination and one of the oldest Buddhist temples in South Korea. It was also the largest temple in Seoul during the Joseon Dynasty. Founded in 794 during the period of the Silla Kingdom, the temple has a 1200-year-old history. In 1902 it was one of the 14 major temples in Korea. During the Japanese colonial period, it became the head temple for 80 other small Buddhist temples around Seoul. It was also known as the head temple of the Korean Seon (meditation).
The temple was originally named Gyeongseongsa Temple and then in 1498, Queen Jeonghyeon renamed it Bongeunsa. The temple is now located in Samseong -dong, Gangnam-gu right near COEX mall. Compared to Jogyesa Temple, this temple is spacious and quieter. Earlier this temple used to be bigger than what it is today and the area where the COEX building is also used to be a part of it.
The main reason to attract both locals and expats to this temple is because of the Great Statue of Maitreya Buddha; the Future Buddha (Mireuk Daebul). This statue was made out of stone by Master Yeongam from 1986 to 1996 and is 23 meters tall. It is currently the tallest statue of Maitreya Buddha in South Korea.
This temple is also another venue that holds the annual Lotus Lantern Festival every May during Buddha’s birthday and it is undoubtedly the best time to visit this temple.