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The Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape

Date de soumission : 23/09/2014
Catégorie :
Soumis par :
Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO
État, province ou région :
Quang Ninh and Bac Giang provinces
Coordonnées N 21005’ to 21009’ E106043’ to 106045’
Ref.: 5940
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Description

The Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape is located on the Dong Trieu range, at the intersection of two provinces: Quang Ninh and Bac Giang. The heritage site is mostly situated on a mountainous region which is about 600m above sea level. With its peak at 1,068m above sea level, Yen Tu is famous for its beautiful natural landscape and cultural heritage, called the anscestral land of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism in Vietnam.

There are three main groups of relics:

  • The historical site and beautiful landscape of Yen Tu (Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh province)
  • The historical site of the Tran dynasty in Dong Trieu (Dong Trieu district, Quang Ninh province)
  • The heritage site and beautiful landscape of West Yen Tu (Yen Dung, Luc Nam, Luc Ngan and Son Dong district, Bac Giang province)

1.1 The historical site and beautiful landscape of Yen Tu

The historical site and beautiful landscape of Yen Tu covers an area of about 9,200 hectars on which religious architectural constructions are built such as pagodas, temples and towers from the Ly dynasty, from Bi Thuong (Doc Do) to the mountain top of Yen Tu (Phuong Dong ward, Thuong Yen Cong commune (Uong Bi city) and Hong Thai Dong commune (Dong Trieu district), Quang Ninh province.)

According to historical books, about 1,000 years ago Yen Tu was considered “the fourth blessing land of Giao Chau” and “in the third year of Tu Duc’s reign, Yen Tu Mountain was listed in the book of well known beautiful places”.

Because of its mystic beauty and sacredness, Yen Tu was chosen by Vietnamese Buddhists as their place for prayer. Before Christ (B.C), An Ky Sinh (Yen Ky Sinh) went there to practice his religion and reached the peak of the mountain. After that, generations of Vietnamese kept coming to Yen Tu to practice Buddhism and build pagodas, towers and other types of constructions.

The Tran dynasty especially invested in an architectural complex of large scale pagoda temples in this area. This was implemented by King Tran Thai Tong (Tran Canh) who arrived to Yen Tu in April 1236 (Binh Than year in lunar calendar) and was continued by King Tran Nhan Tong (Tran Kham), who was the national hero in the two wars against the invader Nguyen Mong in 1285 and 1288. The latter brought peace to the country and led the dynastry to prosperity before handing over the throne to his son, in order to emphasize researching and practising Buddhism in Yen Tu.

In 1299, Tran Nhan Tong founded Truc Lam, a system of theories and actions connecting religion and life. He was considered the first master of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism with his Buddhist name Dieu Ngu Giac Hoang. Two successors, Phap Loa and Huyen Quang Ton Gia, later took over his career. These three individuals were called the « Three Ancestors of Truc Lam », and Yen Tu became the capital of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism, marking the philosophical development of Vietnam in 12nd, 13rd and 14th centuries. Associated with the history of Truc Lam Zen Buddhsim in Yen Tu, a complex of architectural constructions including hundreds of pagodas, temples, towers, graves, memorial steles and statues was built. This large complex was located in a spectacular and poetic landscape which spreads over a dozen of kilometers, forming the Yen Tu complex of histotical heritage and beautiful landscape.

Yen Tu was where the pure Vietnamese Thien Tong Zen Buddhism was founded and developed. It is home to many old architectural masterpieces built and conserved by local Buddhists as well as the feudal dynasties of Ly, Tran, Le and Nguyen. These constructions reflect clearly the development of Vietnamese architecture, arts and sculpture and represent the talent and innovative thinking of Vietnamese people. The large complex was founded early in Vietnam. The existence and development of Thien Tong Zen Buddhism was the flower of the Dai Viet civilization, a golden era for the country - the era of independence and freedom. All pagodas, temples, towers, memorial steles and statues are precious historical data associated with the name and career of Dieu Ngu Giac Hoang Tran Nhan Tong and generations of other Buddhists after him.

Memorial steles in Yen Tu are very informative. A list of Buddhists who practised their religion in this place could be found, and therefore the history of Truc Lam could be understood. Throughout the Ly, Tran, Le and Nguyen dynasties, Yen Tu was the destination for many great Buddhist monks from Hien Quang (Ly dynasty), for the three ancestors of Truc Lam (Tran dynasty), Chan Nguyen (Le dynasty) and the Buddhist nun Dam Thai  (Nguyen dynasty). Some Buddhist monks were from the royal family of Vietnam such as Tran Nhan Tong and Huyen Quang, respectively the first and the third ancestor of Truc Lam. Some were from China, such as Ty kheo Minh Hanh.

The legacy of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism, including written prayers and guide books for Buddhists and local communities such as “Thien tam thiét chuy ngu luc”, “Dai Huong hai an thi tap”, “Tang gia Toan su”, “Thach That My Ngu”, “Truyen Dang Luc”, “Thuong si hanh trang”… is very valuable. It is the national intangible heritage which will be preserved for future.

From the center Yen Tu, Truc Lam Zen Buddhism reached out to other regions of the country. Truc Lam was inherited and promoted to other countries in the world by later generations of Truc Lam Buddhists.

Additionally, thanks to its natural diversity, Yen Tu is also regarded as an ecological museum. Next to the complex of pagodas, temples and towers are forests filled with pine  bamboo and apricots trees. Along the way, architectural masterpieces can be seen in different ways: one might be hidden in the old forest, another is situated obviously in a wide open space and the next would be hidden by the clouds. At the top of Yen Tu, visitors can look down to the East and enjoy Ha Long Bay with thousands of stone islands forming a sort of diamond necklace; or they can look to the South and observe Hai Phong city along with the Da Bac and Bach Dang rivers flowing gently like a sparkling ribbon. To the West they can look over the green fields of Hai Duong and Bac Ninh, or to the North they can oberve endless ranges of mountains. Every year, the Yen Tu festival begins on the 10th day of the first lunar month and takes place throughout the three months of spring.

1.2 The historical site of the Tran dynasty in Dong Trieu

The historical site of the Tran dynasty in Dong Trieu is located in old An Sinh, now known as Dong Trieu, and covers an area of about 11,000 hecta of which the majority belongs to the An Sinh, Trang An, Tan Viet, Thuy An and Binh Khe communes, the Dong Trieu district and Quang Ninh province.  The site is a complex of graves of Kings, temples, shrines, pagodas and towers.

As written in historical books, Dong Trieu was the original hometown of the Tran dynasty before moving to Nam Dinh to establish the empire. The book “Dai Nam nhat thong chi” has a paragraph saying: “According to the information written on the stele in Yen Sinh, the ancestor of the Tran dynasty was from Yen Sinh, Dong Trieu district, and later moved to Tuc Mac, Thien Truong (Nam Dinh). That was why the Kings of the Tran dynasty, who chose Yen Sinh to stay and practice Buddhism after leaving their throne, also chose this place for their burial” According to family records of the Tran dynasty, their ancestors were living in An Sinh. Most of the men were strong fishermen and knew martial arts to fight against pirates. Women stayed at home to do farm work or weave. Later, Tran Kinh (or Tran Cong in other documents), discovered during one of his fishing trips the coastal land of Thien Truong, which had abundant alluvial soils that were good for farming. He and other boatmen in his family gathered more local people and traveled to the new land andgave it a new name – Tuc Mac (now known as Tuc Mac commune, My Loc district, Nam Dinh province). From there, they established the new empire. In “Dong Trieu huyen phong tho ky” (a hand written book in Chinese), it is stated that: “The ancestors of the Tran dynasty first resided in the commune of An Sinh. Most of them were fishermen. Later they moved to Tuc Mac, My Loc. Therefore, all Kings of the Tran dynasty were buried in An Sinh after their death. Nowadays, there are old temples in An Sinh, Tong Me worshiipng the 8 Kings of the Tran dynasty”.

In 1831, to protect the tombs from being robbed and ruined by Cham people, the Tran dynasty moved them from Thai Binh and Nam Dinh to An Sinh. As written in the book “Dai Viet su ky toan thu” (Social Science Publisher, 1998, volume II, p.168), “In June, statues from the tombs in Quac Huong (Nam Dinh) and Thai Duong (Hung Ha,Thai Binh), Long Hung and Kien Xuong were transported to the big tomb in Yen Sinh to avoid being destroyed by Cham people”. After that, the dynasty built a big tomb including Tu Phuc tomb and Ngai Son tomb, and a big cellar named An Sinh cellar (often called Sinh temple today) for worshiping purposes.

Dong Trieu is home to many historical and cultural heritage sites. The most noticeable ones are tombs, temples, shrines, pagodas and towers representing the special architectural style of the Tran dynasty. Inside these are preserved precious data from Han Nom records including lacquered boards (engraved with Han Nom characters), epitaphs, pairs of wood panels (on which are inscribed paralleled sentences) and papers/panels that confered a title to someone in the past, etc. For the Tran dynasty, Dong Trieu was not only the original hometown but also a special cultural center.

The Tran dynasty heritage site in Dong Trieu includes original relics which have great historical and cultural value. Results from archeological studies on these relics provide us with lots of information about the the architectural style, the art of decoration and construction techniques, etc., which is very useful for the conservation and restoration of other relics of the Tran dynasty in the country.

Based on historical documents and findings from archeological research, it is agreeable in all workshops and seminars, concerning the historical relics of the historical site of Tran dynasty in Dong Trieu, that: Talking about Dong Trieu is talking about tombs for the Kings of the Tran dynasty and the complex of temples, shrines, pagodas and towers, etc. This is the largest and the most typical and distinctive cultural center of the Tran dynasty. Most of the pagodas in Dong Trieu and towers belong to the complex of pagodas and towers representing Truc Lam Zen Buddhism. In general, Quang Ninh (Dong Trieu – Uong Bi) is the Buddhist capital and the cultural center of the Dai Viet under the Tran dynasty (while Thang Long and Thien Truong – Nam Dinh, Long Hung – Thai Binh were political centers).

1.3 The heritage site and beautiful landscape of West Yen Tu

Yen Tu mountain is located on the Dong Trieu range which covers the North West of Vietnam. While most of the East side of Yen Tu is under the administrative management of Quang Ninh province, the West mainly belongs to Bac Giang. Many cultural heritage sites relating to the history of Vietnam and how the country was founded and defended are preserved there today, particularly those under the Ly and Tran dynasties.  Situated along the Luc Nam River, from Son Dong down to Yen Dung, West Yen Tu comprises of cultural and historical sites, as well as beautiful landscapes. The Buddhist towers blend in with magnificance of the forest, the mountain and surrounding environment.

Statistics show that there is roughly a dozen of cultural - historical relics and beautiful landscapes with outstanding values on the West of Yen Tu, many of which represent a close connection to the establishment and dominance of Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen Buddhism in history, such as Vinh Nghiem pagoda, Am Vai pagoda, Ho Bac, Binh Long, Mo stream and Dong Thong ecological area. Each pagoda was built with a distinctive architectural style but all are situated on good geographical positions, correspond to the rule of feng shui and symbolise the Buddhist philosophy highly present under the Ly and Tran dynaties.

Among them, Vinh Nghiem pagoda stands out as a religious center and ancestral land in the history of Vietnamese Buddhism. Many types of sacred Buddhist statues, especially the valuable wooden blocks of the Buddhist scriptures, are safeguarded there. Another important pagoda is Am Vai, which is built on a great geographical position and within the beautiful native forest.

Not so far from there is Suoi Mo, another well-known landscape. It is a stream flowing down from Da Vach and Ho Chuoi through Huyen Dinh – Yen Tu mountain, forming a marvelous waterfalls and stunning natural springs. Along the stream is Thuong (Higher) temple, Trung (Middle) temple and Ha (Lower) temple, built for the worshipping of princess Que My Nuong, who was the daughter of Hung Dinh Vuong (Hung Dinh King) and later nominated as Thuong Ngan Thanh Mau (the mother of the higher land).

On the Phat Son – Yen Tu range can be found Vang stream and its 24 beautiful waterfalls, an attractive destination for visitors. Just around the corner are other heritage sites such as Dong Vanh pagoda, Ban Phu temple built for the worshipping of the Tran dynasty’s kings, queens and princesses.

Overall, West Yen Tu is blessed with amazingly beautiful landscapes and stands out as a convergence of exceptional tangible and intangible cultural heritage values.The heritage site and beautiful landscape of West Yen Tu includes a Natural Conservation area and other relics, most of which were built by the Ly and Tran dynasties and has a close link to Truc Lam Zen Buddhism founded by King Tran Nhan Tong during the late 13 century. The place has been placed under the management of several districts: Yen Dung, Luc Ngan and Son Dong, Bac Giang province.

- The natural conservation area of West Yen Tu: The natural conservation area of West Yen Tu was established according to Decision 117/2002/QĐ-UBND dated 22/7/2002 by the People’s Committee of Bac Giang province. It covers an area of 13.022,7 hectars including forests and special-use forests. The buffer zone is of 11.765,4 hectars.

The natural conservation area of West Yen Tu is located on the western slope of Yen Tu Mountain and takes up most of the natural forest area grown on the bow-shaped range of mountains of Dong Trieu, and belongs to Luc Nam and Son Dong district, Bac Giang province. It is the largest natural forest in the area of Bac Giang, connected with the forest of Quang Ninh province.

According to both national and international scientists, the natural forest around Yen Tu not only has high values in terms of biological diversity but also greatly contributes to climate equable and provides water to the north-eastern provinces. It is estimated that there are about 728 plant species and 285 animal spieces living in the forest.

Besides, the natural conservation area of West Yen Tu has many beautiful wild landscape places such as Giot waterfall, Ba Tia waterfall, Ran stoneground, Ao Vua (King’s pond), Tien lake, Nuoc Vang (Yellow Water) stream, Nuoc Trong (Pure Water) stream, etc.

- Heritage sites in Son Dong district: There are many beautiful places such as Vung Trong, Khe Ro in the commune of An Lac, Dong Thong (pine tree field), Ba Tia waterfall in the commune of Tuan Mau and Thanh Son town right at the foot of Yen Tu Mountain, where the Dong pagoda is located. During cloudless days, standing at the foot of the mountain, one could see clearly the Dong pagoda on Yen Tu mountain.

- Heritage sites in Luc Nam district: The heritage sites here have a strong connection with Truc Lam Zen Buddhism: Cao pagoda, Hon Thap pagoda, Non pagoda, Binh Long pagoda, Ho Bac pagoda and the relic-beautiful landscape Mo stream.

- Heritage sites in Yen Dung district: As the first school to train Buddhist monks and nuns, Vinh Nghiem pagoda (Tri Yen commune) was one of the largest centers of Truc Lam - Yen Tu Zen Buddhism. Antiqueties are preserved in the pagoda: worshiping statues, worshiping objects, reliefs, carved panels, epitaphs, and building design patterns, etc. Especially, more than 3,000 wood blocks were found here and recognized in 2012 by UNESCO as part of the world documentary heritage of the Asia-Pacific region.

- Heritage sites in Luc Ngan district: Am Vai temple (Nam Duong commune) is situated on a great geographical position within the beautiful landscape of the mountain and forest. Legend has it that the pagoda was built by the Ly dynasty and belongs to the temple-towers along the West side of Yen Tu, developed by the Tran dynasty when Buddhism was in its prime.

Justification de la Valeur Universelle Exceptionelle

Criterion (ii): Relics on and excavated under the ground in the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape have proved a long history of cultural exchanges in the country, which has been under the inluence of different cultures from outside as well as different doctrines and thinkings resulted from the global civilization, especially Buddhism and Feng Shui. The interchange has been expressed in the landscape design, planning, architectural style and decoration throughout history.

Criterion (iii): The heritage site, in a hilly and mountainous region, with dozens of pagodas, towers and small temples, and thousands of antiqueties - especially old books, preserves spiritual values of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism and the cultural traces of the Dai Viet civilization. The values of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism and Dai Viet culture have been kept throughout the history of Viet Nam, promoted to other countries in the world by generations of Zen masters and will be retained in the future.

The wooden block of “Thien Tong ban hanh”, representing Nom characteristics and preserved at Vinh Nghiem pagoda (Bac Giang), has for example been selected by Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation in the USA as the international standard character for Nom texts using Unicode (NomNaTongLight.ttf). This could later be set up on computers around the world. The uniqueness of this wooden block is that it includes both Han and Nom texts while most wooden blocks found in Korea, Japan and China only used the former.

Criterion (v): The Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape is a vivid illustration of human interaction with the environment and traditional human permanent settlement reflected in the establishment of Yen Tu, thousands of years ago, as a “Buddhist center” with a complex of architectural masterpieces located in a beautiful landscape.

Criterion (vi): Truc Lam is a pure Vietnamese Zen Buddhism which focuses on inner feelings but at the same time enters into life with a forgiveness approach. Truc Lam aims to connect religion to life in a positive way and builds a close link to true patriotism. The theory behind the creation of Truc Lam resulted from a combination of different stories including those inherited from older generations. Tran Nhan Tong, the founder of Truc Lam, was the one who collected a lot of older books such as: Thien tam thiet chuy ngu luc, Dai Huong Hai an thi tap, Tang gia toai su, Thach that my Ngu, Truyen Dang Luc, Thuong Si hanh trang... These were the books that guided Buddhists and followers of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism on how to practise their religion and become good people.

Furthermore, the wooden blocks of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism – Thien Tong Ban Hanh also consist of valuable literary works such as Cu tran lac dao phu (to live a human life and be filled with the spiritual happiness) written as a rythmic prose,  Dac thu lam tuyen thanh dao ca (a poem about the contentment of living in the woods and achieveing spiritual enlightenment) by Tran Nhan Tong), Vinh Hoa Yen tu phu (that describes the beauty of the Hoa Yen pagoda) by Huyen Quang Zen Buddhist, etc. These poetic Zen writings have developed a positive impact on  society and attracted the attention of many Vietnamese and international literary researchers. The wooden blocks of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism present both Han and Nom texts which were carved deliberately in different writing styles such as chan thu, thao thu, le thu and hanh thu, (simple writing, shorthand, formal writing and quick writing) etc. Thus, great art works of calligraphy are displayed in Yen Tu. Along with the written the pages are also skillfully painted illustrations with a perfect pictorial composition, which deserve to be mentioned as valuable artworks.

Criterion (vii): Yen Tu has for housands of years been known and honored as a “blessed land” because of its spectacular beauty of nature and the soul of the Zen Buddhism within its people. Yen Tu is thought of as a natural ecological museum due to its rich bio-diversity. It becomes even more attractive to visitors with hundreds of pagodas, towers and small temples between pine tree forests, bamboo forests and apricot forests. The natural landscape of this place met the requirements of a Buddhism center, which was why it was chosen by Vietnamese Buddhism followers as a place to come and build small temples covered with grass, to practice their religion. In the 10th century, An Ky Sinh (Yen Ky Sinh) came here to practise and reached the peak of his way in Buddhism. After that, generations of Buddhist monks, nuns and other followers arrived to practise Buddhism and to build pagodas, towers and other architectural masterpieces.

Déclarations d’authenticité et/ou d’intégrité

Statement of Integrity  

The Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape covers and area of over 30,000 hectars and includes the most important historical – cultural relics and beautiful landscapes related to the history of the Tran dynasty and Truc Lam Zen Buddhism. In 1962, when the government first ranked relics in Vietnam, the historical site of the Tran dynasty in Dong Trieu (Dong Trieu district, Quang Ninh province) was recognized as a national heritage site. In 1964 and 1975, Vinh Nghiem pagoda (Bac Giang province) and the historical site and beautiful landscape of Yen Tu (Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh province) were also recognized as national heritage sites. Additionally the Complex of Yen Tu also consists of many other relics recognized at a national and provincial level. They have been inventoried, managed, excavated and preserved under the Law on Cultural Heritage. Examples are the Kem pagoda, part of the National Special Heritage site of Yen The uprising places, recognized by the Prime Minister in the Decision No 548/QĐ-TTg dated May  10th, 2012; Suoi Mo temple (Bac Giang) recognized by the Ministry of Culture (at present the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) as a National Historical and Architectural Relic in the Decision No28/QĐ-BVH dated January 28th, 1998. Especially, on May 16th, 2012, at the meeting of the Asia Pacific Regional Committee of UNESCO held in Bangkok (Thailand), woodblocks at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda were enlisted as World Documentary Heritage in the Memory of the World Programme.

On September 27th, 2012, the Prime Minister issued the Decision No 1419/QĐ-TTg to recognize the historical site and beautiful landscape of Yen Tu (Quang Ninh province) as a National Special Heritage site. After that, the historical site of the Tran dynasty in Dong Trieu (Quang Ninh province)  was also recognized as a National Special Heritage site in the Decision No 2383/QĐ-TTg, dated December 9th, 2013 by the Prime Minister. The master plan to preserve and promote the values of the historical site and beautiful landscape of Yen Tu (Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh province) and the historical site of the Tran dynasty in Dong Trieu (Dong Trieu district, Quang Ninh province) was approved by the Prime Minister in 2013.

The identification and ranking of heritage sites, as well as the development of a master plan to manage, preserve and promote the heritage values for younger generations, are in line with the UNESCO Convention 1972 concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is now working with the People’s Committees of three provinces such as Quang Ninh and Bac Giang, to actively protect the integrity of the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape through a legal framework including Law on Cultural Heritage, Law on Forest protection and Development, Tourism Law, Law on Bio-diversity, etc. Based on these legislations, every activity taking place in an area where a heritage monument is located, thus having an impact on the its value, must be approved by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and other relevant authorities.

Above all, the provincial government as well as the people of the province understand that the protection of the environment and the integrity of the heritage site is the protection of their own lives and future generations’. This awareness is very important and contributes effectively to the preservation of the integrity and promotion of outstanding universal values of the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape.

Statement of Authenticity

Having gone through the ups and downs of history, especially the devastation from wars and natural disasters, many constructions in the heritage area were destroyed or damaged. Some have recently been repaired and restored, others excavated and studied, but most of them are still preserved intact or are under the ground. Archaeological studies show that the authenticity of original relics is kept intact.

A significant part of the heritage area is primeval with special types of forests, beautiful wild landscapes and rich biodiversity, which plays an important role in making climate equitable and supplying water to the north-eastern provinces of Vietnam.

Comparaison avec d’autres biens similaires

To compare the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape with other World Heritage sites, the following criteria are applied in choosing comparable sites:

  1. Priority is given to World Heritage sites recognized according to similar criteria to the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape (criteria (ii), (iii), (v), (vi) and (vii)).
  2. Heritage sites inscribed on the List of Cultural and Natural World Heritage according to at least one or two criteria on culture (especially criterion (vi) and one criterion on aesthetics (criterion (vii)), which are similar to the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape.
  3. Heritage sites inscribed on the List of Cultural and Natural World Heritage that have many similarities with the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape.
  4. Heritage sites in other Asian countries and some other countries in the world.
  5. Additionally, it is necessary to compare Yen Tu with all other heritage sites on the Tentative List to develop World Heritage Nominational dossiers which adopt similar criteria with the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape.

Using the five above mentioned criteria for choosing comparable sites, the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape can compare with several sites such as follows:

  • Ha Long Bay (Quang Ninh, Vietnam): criteria (vii) and cultural and archaeological values of Ha Long Bay.
  • The Trang An Landscape Complex (Ninh Binh, Viet Nam): criteria (v) and (vii).
  • Hirazumi town with many Temples, Gardens and archaeological sites which have strong connections with the development of Buddhism, recognized as World Cultural Heritage in 2011 according to criteria (ii) and (vi). (Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land comprises five sites, including the sacred Mount Kinkeisan. It features vestiges of government offices dating from the 11th and 12th centuries when Hiraizumi was the administrative centre of the northern realm of Japan and rivalled Kyoto. The realm was based on the cosmology of Pure Land Buddhism, which spread to Japan in the 8th century. It represented the pure land of Buddha that people aspire to after death, as well as peace of mind in life. In combination with indigenous Japanese nature worshiping and Shintoism, Pure Land Buddhism developed a concept of planning and garden design that was unique to Japan).
Royal Hill in Ambohimanga (Madagasca) recognized as World Cultural Heritage in 2001 according to criteria (iii), (iv) and (vi). (The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga consists of a royal city and burial site, and an ensemble of sacred places. It is associated with strong feelings of national identity, and has maintained its spiritual and sacred character both in ritual practice and popular belief, for the past 500 years. It remains a place of worship to which pilgrims come from Madagascar and elsewhere)./.