Top Historical Places in Kyoto

Are you looking to explore the history of Kyoto through the ages? There are a number of historical destinations in Kyoto including the time-honored buildings, monuments, palaces, and parks where you can learn about the glorious past of Kyoto. The presence of these historical sites and museums will take you on a walk through Kyoto ‘s rich history.
If you are willing to have an in-depth historical information about Kyoto, we recommend that you take a wonderful guided tour to cover the major historical attractions. Also, check the opening and closing time for each so that you can organize your time. Make sure that you go through the complete list of historical places in Kyoto for a great trip!

Let's witness the history of Kyoto with these top historical places - monuments and landmarks:

  1. Fushimi Inari-taisha

    4.6 (10111 Votes)
    Fushimi Inari-taisha

    Religious Site, Outdoors, Trail, Historical Site

    The Fushimi Inari-Taisha is an important Shinto shrine situated in southern Kyoto. It is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. A unique thing about this shrine is the thousands of vermillion coloured gateways. A lot of small shrines and stone monuments are spread across the shrine’s precinct. The shrine is situated o...Read more
  2. Nijo Castle

    4.4 (6359 Votes)
    Nijo Castle

    Castle, Historical Site, Architecture

    The Nijo Castle was constructed in 1603 as the residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu (the first shogun of the Edo Period). The Castle is divided into three areas- the Honmaru (main circle of defence), the Ninomaru (secondary circle of defence) and the gardens that surround the Honmaru and Ninomaru. The architecturally gorgeous Ninomaru Palace has beautiful paintings on its walls and sliding doors. Loca...Read more
  3. Sanjusangen-do

    4.5 (7434 Votes)

    Religious Site, Temple, Historical Site, Statue

    More famous for its 1001 figures of Kannon, The Sanjusangen-do Temple was originally built by Taira no Kiyamori for retired emperor Go-Shirakawa in the year 1164. The temple features a huge hall where the statues of the Kannon are placed. These were carved in the 12th and 13th centuries. The temple is a designated National Treasure and is situated in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto. The original...Read more
  4. Kyoto Imperial Palace

    4.4 (4015 Votes)
    Kyoto Imperial Palace

    Historical Site, Palace

    The Kyoto Imperial Palace used to be the residence of Japan's Imperial Family until the year 1868 after which the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. After being burnt down and moved around a lot over the decades, the current Imperial Palace was reconstructed in 1855. Rich in tradition, the Kyoto Imperial Palace preserves the look and ambiance of t...Read more
  5. Byodoin Temple

    4.4 (2948 Votes)
    Byodoin Temple

    Religious Site, Temple, Museum, Historical Site

    The Byodoin temple is one of 17 World Cultural Heritage sites in Kyoto. Having beautiful and intricate architecture, it is a classic example of Japanese Buddhist Pure Land (Jodo) architecture. In accordance to this type of architecture, the temple complex consists of the Amida-do (Ho'o-do) hall and a pond. The Amida-do houses a figure of Amida-Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) and 51 smaller Buddhist...Read more
  6. Heian Shrine

    4.3 (2001 Votes)
    Heian Shrine

    Outdoors, Historical Site

    The spacious Heian-jingu was founded in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of establishing Kyoto as the capital of Japan. This Shinto shrine was originally dedicated to the 50th Emperor of Kyoto, Emperor Kanmu, who had founded Kyoto as the capital of Japan in the year 794. Later, the shrine was also dedicated to the 121st Emperor Komei, who was the last Emperor in the capital Kyoto. The...Read more
  7. Shimogamo Shrine

    4.4 (548 Votes)
    Shimogamo Shrine

    Religious Site, Unesco Site

    A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest and most important shrines in Kyoto. Located within the Tadasu no Mori forest and situated on the southern banks of the Kamo River, this temple and shrine is probably older than the city itself. The main deity of the shrine is Kamotaketsunomi-no-mikoto who is considered to be the creator and guardian of the city. To escape ...Read more
  8. Nishi Honganji

    4.3 (339 Votes)
    Nishi Honganji

    Religious Site, Temple, Unesco Site

    The head temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect, the charming Nishi Honganji was built in the year 1591 and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The two main structures of the temple complex- Amidado Hall and Goeido Hall are dedicated to Amida Buddha and the founder of the sect, Shinran, respectively. Some of the architectural structures at the temple date far back to the Azuchi-Momoyama Period...Read more
  9. Kurama

    Outdoors, View Point, Historical Site, Adventure

    Situated in the hilly region of north Kyoto, the rural town of Kurama is a revelation! Away from the city’s hustle bustle, Kurama is surrounded by forested mountains. The main attractions in and around the town are the Kurama-dera Mountain temple, the Yuki-jinja Shrine (small Shinto shrine halfway up Mt. Kurama) and the Kurama Onsen (hot spring with outdoor tub surrounded by forested moun...Read more
  10. Kyoto National Museum

    4.2 (284 Votes)
    Kyoto National Museum

    Museum, Heritage Building

    One of Japan’s oldest museums, the Kyoto National Museum is spread across several buildings, the most famous being the Main Hall which is a beautiful example of Meiji architecture. Opened in the year 1897 as the Imperial Museum of Kyoto, this museum is one of the top four museums in the country and for good reason. On display are objects and artefacts such as paintings, sculptures, archae...Read more
  11. Saiho-ji

    4.2 (69 Votes)

    Religious Site, Unesco Site

    A UNESCO World Heritage, the Saihoji Temple is famous all across Japan for its beautiful moss garden. Having approximately 120 varieties of moss, no wonder the temple is also known as Kokedera which translates to ‘Moss Temple’. A reservation in the form of a letter sent to the temple authorities needs to be made to visit the temple. But don’t let the lengthy process of making ...Read more
  12. Kyoto Gyoen National Garden

    4.4 (116 Votes)
    Kyoto Gyoen National Garden

    Garden, Walking Area, Palace, Architecture

    A huge public garden situated in the heart of the city, the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden is roughly 1.3 kilometres in length and 0.7 kilometres in breadth. During the Edo period, this area used to be the Court Nobles’ Residential Area. Thus, even today you will find some historic architectural structures within the garden, including the Kyoto Imperial Palace. If you want to escape the hust...Read more
  13. Yasaka No To Pagoda

    4.5 (109 Votes)
    Yasaka No To Pagoda

    Off Beaten Path, Ancient Ruin, Historical Site

    Believed to be dating back to the 15th century, the Yasakanoto Pagoda is a unique place to visit in Kyoto. Having survived wars, fires and earthquakes, the pagoda stands tall amidst the ruins of the nearby temples. The entire area will also double up as a beautiful backdrop to your Kyoto photographs. If you love to off the beaten path attractions, you should visit the Yasakanoto.
  14. Yasui-konpiragu

    Walking Area, Monument

    Established by Kamatari Fujiwara to pray for the prosperity of his clan and of his descendants, the Yasui-Konpiragu shrine is a quirky place to visit in Kyoto. Although the shrine itself is like any other shrine in Kyoto, the powerful stone monument located in the shrine’s premises is what attracts hundreds of visitors each day. This stone monument is believed to have powers that help peo...Read more
  15. Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple

    4.6 (72 Votes)
    Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple

    Religious Site, Temple, Statue, Sculpture

    Dating back to the 8th century, the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple was founded by Empress Shotoku. A quaint looking temple, a unique feature about it are the 1200 plus stone statues of the disciples of Gautama Buddha. All the Rakan (stone sculptures) have funny expressions and were sculpted by mostly armatures under the guidance of Kocho Nishimura. It was in the year 1981 that these now moss covered s...Read more