Top 5 historical treasures
North East Asia is an area of the world full of extraordinary historical gems. The Gap Year Travel Guide chooses five sites for you to explore, including castles, temples and monuments.
Himeji Castle, Japan
Japan’s most visited castle, Himeji was originally built between 1333-1346 with other expansions in 1601-1608, a well-known period for castle building in Japan.
In 1967, its beautiful setting, surrounded by pine and cherry trees was used as one of the locations for shooting the 007 film, You Only Live Twice, starring Sean Connery.
Major renovation works are currently being carried out on the castle keep’s roof until March 2015 but it is still open to visitors.
Great Wall of China
One of the most famous sites in the world, let alone North East Asia.
Built over two thousand years ago, the Great Wall of China stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Lake in the west at a phenomenal length of 8,851 kilometres. This is made up of the actual wall, trenches and natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.
The Great Wall is actually a series of several walls and was built gradually at different times by different emperors.
Interestingly, this ancient monument was only listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.
Jokhang Temple, Tibet
King Songtsen Gampo built this temple in the mid-7th century but the structure here today is the result of a massive reconstruction 100 years later.
The first floor of this colossal building features a series of chapels, each dedicated to a different deity, monk or king.
Look out from the rooftops to enjoy the spectacular views across Barkhor, the pilgrimage route around the temple.
Jokhang is the country’s spiritual centre and the holiest destination for Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims.
Zaisan Memorial, Mongolia
Located south of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, Zaisan Memorial honours Soviet soldiers killed in World War II.
The monument, situated on a hill, boasts a panoramic view of the entire city of Ulaanbaatar in the valley below and the Tuul River flowing past the city.
There is also a mural which depicts scenes such as Soviet support for Mongolia’s independence in 1921, the defeat of the Japanese Kwantung Army by the Soviets, victory over Nazi Germany and peacetime achievements such as Soviet space flights.
Bulguksa Temple, South Korea
Originally founded in the year 535 by King Pob-hung for the use of his queen to pray, Bulguksa Temple on the slopes of Tohamsan, in Jinheon-dong; Gyeongju is home to seven Korean national treasures.
The most recently built temple was begun in 751 by the mysterious Prime Minister Kim Daeseong. It is believed he personally designed the temple and dedicated it to the memory of his ancestors.
The large temple complex has two courtyards, one around the Shakyamuni Buddha and the other around the Hall of Paradise.