Anapji means "Goose and Duck Lake." It was originally constructed in February 674 during the reign of Munmu, the 30th king of Silla. Munmu's family was blessed with success. His father, King Muyeol, unified the Korean peninsula in 668, engineering the defeat of the Baekje and Goguryeo kingdoms kingdoms which fell in 660 and 668, respectively.
Today's Anapji is a mere echo of its original form, with little of the vegetation and none of the original architecture. During Munmu's time Anapji served as a resort garden teeming with rare plants and animals. To impress Tang dynasty Chinese envoys, miniaturizations of the twelve famous peaks of China's Wushan mountain were terraced around the lake. Here, envoys could relax in an atmosphere inspired by the scenery of their homeland.
Though pleasant and relaxing, Anapji served often as a center of Silla diplomacy. The pavilion of Imhaejeon seated over one-thousand people, and is probably the place where the surrender of Silla to Goryeo took place in 935.
All of the pavilions have vanished over the years, but some of the original foundation stones are still visible by the lakeside. As part of the comprehensive Gyeongju valley archaeological study, the Korean government temporarily drained Anapji pond in 1972, revealing thousands of Silla artifacts that had fallen into the lake or were thrown in. Many of these were restored and relocated to the Gyeongju National Museum.
Look carefully at the site plan below. Some have suggested that the promontories and islands form a map of Korea and its surrounding neighbors. This theory supposes the large peninsula at top-center represents south Korea with Jeju Island to the southeast. The large egg-shaped island to the east is Kyushu (south Japan), and Taiwan is the major island southwest of "Korea." North of "Taiwan" is the Shandong Peninsula and the Yellow Sea. There are no records to support this theory, but it remains a possibility.