Nara's World Heritage Attractions
There are so many places of historic and cultural significance in Nara, that UNESCO has classified them in three World Heritage groups: Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, Buddhist Monuments in the Horyuji Area and Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.
That means there are actually dozens of amazing World Heritage places to visit in Nara. In the Horyuji area alone, there are 48 World Heritage Buddhist monuments; enough to keep you busy for a while.
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
According to UNESCO, the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara demonstrate the evolution of Japanese architecture and art as a result of cultural links with China and Korea, which were to have a profound influence on future developments. The majority are close to Nara Park.
Along with everyone’s must-sees Todaiji Temple and Kasugataisha Shrine, Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest is recognised as a key natural space, integral to Shinto beliefs. Kohfukuji Temple and Gangoji Temple are also on the list.
Nearby, the ruins of Heijo Palace and the ancient capital are considered outstanding examples of architecture and city planning. Yakushiji Temple and Toshodaiji Temple are also World Heritage sites and fascinating in their own right. All can be easily reached with a Nara Kotsu 1 Day Bus Pass.
Buddhist Monuments in the Horyuji Area
The area around Horyuji Temple is so rich in history, it gets its own special World Heritage listing. The 48 Buddhist monuments include buildings and carvings. Several of the buildings date from the late 7th or early 8th century, making them some of the oldest surviving wooden structures in the world.
Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range
If natural wonders are more your thing, you can explore the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. The pilgrim trails link Yoshino and Omine in Nara with the mountain-top temple complex Koyasan and the Kumano Sanzan grand shrines of Wakayama. The mountains and paths here have been sacred for over 1,200 years.