45 Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu
HOURS: Grounds daily 24 hours; main hall daily 4 a.m.-9 p.m.;
information center daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
SUBWAY: Anguk (Line 3)
This Buddhist temple is not one of Korea’s most architecturally distinguished but is notable for its city-center location—Korean temples are typically confined to mountains—and as the headquarters of the Jogye Order, the main sect in Korean Buddhism.
While a temple is believed to have been established in the area in 1395, Jogyesa’s modern incarnation dates back only to 1910. The temple complex is dominated by the daeungjeon (main hall), a towering, multi-hued structure adorned with murals depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life.
The hall is the temple’s center of worship and houses three massive Buddha statues. In the middle is the historical Buddha, flanked by two of his other incarnations: Amitabha, who oversees the Western Paradise, the Buddhist version of heaven, and the Medicine Buddha, the deity of healing.
The grounds contain a giant, 500-year-old locust tree, a seven-story pagoda that is circumnavigated by the faithful, and a belfry housing a wooden fish, gong, and drum that are struck twice a day to summon the beings of water, sky, and earth, respectively.
The temple’s information center, staffed with English-speakers, can assist with tours and even meditation courses. Jogyesa also has a small museum and teashop, and a store selling incense, Buddhist texts, paintings, and amulets. If the selection there proves inadequate, the entire street surrounding the temple is something of an informal shopping district for Buddhist sundries.