The ruins of this simply vast 6th century temple are a sad and desolate spectacle: once the nation's largest Buddhist temple, its standout feature was a huge nine-storey, 80m-tall pagoda (the world's tallest wooden building at the time), whose foundation stones can still be seen. The entire temple and pagoda was sent up in flames by the Mongols in 1238. The surviving foundation stones give an idea of the scale of the compound, which was astonishing in size.
At the time of writing, tentative plans were afoot to rebuild the pagoda. The on-site Hwangnyong-sa History and Culture Museum is well worth a visit for its film and exhibits relating to the temple.