In 1901, seven stone Buddhas, each representing the Buddha of the Future, were found in a swamp northwest of Cheongju. Legend has it that seven Buddhas appeared to King Gojong's consort in a dream, asking her to build them a house; she sent workers to find and remove them from the swamp. The Yonghwasa was built and the seven statues were enshrined in the Mireuk Bojeon Hall ("the hall to conserve the Buddha image"). Actually, the seven statues are five Buddhas and two bodhisattvas, but who wants to mess with a legend? The largest of the Buddhas has a swastika on his chest, but don't be alarmed -- before the symbol was co-opted by the Nazis, it was an ancient symbol of luck. When it appears on Buddhas, it is meant to symbolize the radiation in all directions of the Buddha's power.
The temple sits over the levee from the stream, north of the city's main bridge, and is walking distance from downtown.