Seoul, SKorea

Hwagye-sa was founded by Master Shinwol in 1523, during the reign of King Chungjong of the ChosuChosensty. It was burnt down in 1618 and was rebuilt the following year by Master Dowol. The present building has been repaired by two monks, Yongso and Bomun, in 1866. After that, the temple served the Koryo royal family. Hwagye-sa is home to the Seoul International Zen Center under the direction of Priest Sung-san. Foreign monks and Buddhist people live and practice here.

Although not a very big temple compared to other famous ones, Hwagye-sa is full of history. The Royal families of the Chosun Dynasty often visited it to pray for the nation's well being. Its garden is very beautiful and is filled with many trees and the buildings preserve the style of the late Chosun Dynasty. Many talented Buddhist artists came from here.

Moreover, there is a famous story about a spring near the temple. One day a crow pecked at a rock. Water came from the hole where it pecked and eventually became a spring. It is believed that the water is very good for skin and stomach diseases, so many people visit to drink the water. Many hikers in Bukhan-san National Park also visit the spring.


Hwagye-sa dates back to 1522, during the reign of King Chungjong, when a hermitage called Bodeok-am was moved here and renamed. Taeungjon, the main prayer hall, was built in 1870 and has been designated Seoul Tangible Cultural Property #65. It has a hipped-and-gabled roof and is of a multi-cluster bracket style with two tiers of brackets projecting to the outside and three tiers to the inside. The ornamentation of the bracket arms, the style of the ceiling, and the use of wooden panels for walls are typical of Buddhist architecture of the late Chosun Period.

Nestled in the hillside, overlooking the temple, lie the Memorial Pagodas for three great Zen Masters: Jok Um Zen Master (left, looking from the temple), Ko Bong Zen Master (center), and Duk Sahn Zen Master (right). All great teachers in their time, they lived at Hwagye-sa at some point in their lives. Visitors wishing to pay their respects or admire the intricate carving on the pagodas can climb a short stair case.



Subway line 4, Suyu Station, exit 3, take maeul (village) bus #2 and get off at Hwagye-sa (Temple), 5 minutes by walking; or take taxi (basic charge) from Suyu Station.