Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. During this period the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture. The city's historic monuments – Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and the excavated remains of the great Imperial Palace – provide a vivid picture of life in the Japanese capital in the 8th century, a period of profound political and cultural change.

Monuments historiques de l'ancienne Nara

Nara a été la capitale du Japon de 710 à 784. Durant cette période, la structure du gouvernement national s'est consolidée et la capitale, très prospère, est devenue la source d'inspiration de la culture japonaise. Les monuments historiques de Nara – temples bouddhiques et sanctuaires shintoïstes , ainsi que les fouilles du grand palais impérial – offrent une image frappante de ce que fut la capitale du Japon au VIIIe siècle, période de profond changement politique et culturel.

النصب التاريخيّة في نارا القديمة

كانت مدينة نارا عاصمة اليابان من العام 710 حتى العام 784. وفي خلال هذه الفترة، ثبُتَت بنية الحكومة الوطنيّة وأصبحت العاصمة التي كانت مزدهرةً جدًا في ذلك الوقت مصدر الوحي للثقافة اليابانيّة. وتدلّ الآثار التاريخيّة في نيارا من معابد بوذيّة ومزارات شنتويّة، بالاضافة إلى حفريّات القصر الامبراطوري الكبير، على الصورة المذهلة لما كانت عليه عاصمة اليابان في القرن الثامن، وهي الفترة التي شهدت التغيّر السياسي والثقافي الكبير.

source: UNESCO/ERI

古奈良的历史遗迹

奈良在公元710年至784年是日本的首都,在那个时期,日本国家政府的结构确定了下来,并且奈良到达了其鼎盛时期,成为日本文化的发源地。古奈良的历史遗迹——佛教庙宇、神道教神殿以及挖掘出来的帝国宫殿遗迹——向世人展示了一幅公元8世纪日本首都的生动画面,深刻揭示了当时的政治及文化动荡和变迁。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Памятники исторической части города Нара

Нара была столицей Японии в 710-784 гг. В этот период произошла консолидация системы государственного управления, а Нара процветала и была источником развития японской культуры. Исторические памятники города – буддийские храмы, синтоистские святилища и раскопанные остатки большого императорского дворца - дают наглядную картину жизни японской столицы в VIII в., т.е. во времена коренных политических и культурных изменений.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Monumentos históricos de la antigua Nara

Nara fue la capital de Japón entre los años 710 y 784, época en la que la consolidación de la estructura del gobierno nacional dio una gran prosperidad a la ciudad, haciendo de ella el foco de la cultura japonesa. Sus templos budistas y santuarios sintoístas, así como los vestigios del palacio imperial, son monumentos históricos que ofrecen una vívida imagen de lo que fue la capital del Japón en el siglo VIII, un periodo de hondos cambios políticos y culturales.

source: UNESCO/ERI

古都奈良の文化財

source: NFUAJ

Historische monumenten van oud Nara

Nara was de hoofdstad van Japan van 710 tot 784. Tijdens deze periode werd het kader van de nationale overheid geconsolideerd en kende Nara grote welvaart. De stad ontpopte zich als de bron van de Japanse cultuur. De historische monumenten die Nara bezit – Boeddhistische tempels, shinto heiligdommen en de opgegraven overblijfselen van het grote Keizerlijke paleis – geven een levendig beeld van het leven in de Japanse hoofdstad tijdens de 8e eeuw, een periode van diepgaande politieke en culturele veranderingen. De monumenten weerspiegelen ook de ontwikkeling van Japanse architectuur en kunst, als gevolg van de culturele banden met China en Korea.

Source: unesco.nl

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Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara © UNESCO
Justification for Inscription

Criterion (ii): The historic monuments of ancient Nara bear exceptional witness to 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. Criterion (iii): The flowering of Japanese culture during the period when Nara was the capital is uniquely demonstrated by its architectural heritage. Criterion (iv): The layout of the Imperial Palace and the design of the surviving monuments in Nara are outstanding examples of the architecture and planning of early Asian capital cities. Criterion (vi): The Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines of Nara demonstrate the continuing spiritual power and influence of these religions in an exceptional manner.

Long Description

The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara bear exceptional witness to 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. They vividly illustrate a critical period in the cultural and political development of Japan.

In 710 the capital of Japan was transferred from Fujiwara to Nara, which prospered as the political, economic and cultural centre of the country for the next 74 years, during the Nara period. The site of Heijô-kyô was carefully selected in accordance with Chinese geomantic principles. A grand city plan, based on Chinese examples such as Chang'an, was laid out, with palaces, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, public buildings, houses, and roads on an orthogonal grid. The palace itself, located at the northern end of the central avenue, occupied 120 ha. It comprised the official buildings where political and religious ceremonies took place, notably the Daigokuden (imperial audience hall) and Chôdô-in (state halls), and the imperial residence (Dairi), together with various compounds for administrative and other purposes.

In 784 the imperial capital moved to Nagaoka for nine years, and then to Kyoto (Heian), where it was to remain until 1184. The abandoned Nara capital became paddy fields. However, most of the temples and shrines survived intact; they maintained their high status and imperial patronage. A new town developed around them known as Nanto (South Capital). The temple area around Tôdai-ji, Kôfuku-ji, Gangô-ji and Kasuga-Taisha was particularly prosperous, and it was here that the modern city developed in the 16th century.

The Tôdai-ji consists of a group of buildings. The Kondô (Great Buddha Hall) houses the seated image of the Vairocana (Great) Buddha. It is a monumental seven-bay wooden structure, and the bronze statue is some 15 m high. The Kôfuku-ji, erected in Fujiwara, was rebuilt in Nara when the capital moved there in 710. The Gangô-ji was the first Buddhist temple in Japan, built by Soga-no-Umako in the 6th century and originally known as Asuka-dera. It was transferred from Asuka in 718 when the capital moved to Nara. Much of it was destroyed by fire in 1451.

The Tôshôdai-ji, originally built by the Chinese high priest Jian Zhen (Ganjin) in 759 for students of Buddhism, is unusual in having suffered very little from fire or other forms of disaster. Its main features are the Kondô (main hall, the only extant example built in the Nara period and very important in the study of Japanese temple architecture), Kôdô (lecture hall, originally a state assembly hall in the Nara Palace and the only surviving example of the architecture of the palace), Korô (sutra repository), and Hôzô and Kyôzô (two Nara repositories in 'log-house' style).

The Kasuga-Taisha: according to legend the Kasuga-Taisha (Kasuga Great Shrine) was founded in 768, but its origins are believed to go back to the beginning of the Nara period. It is located at the foot of two sacred mountains: Kasugayama and Mikasayama. The buildings of Kasuga-Taisha have been restored and reconstructed on many occasions following decay and destruction. The buildings are all within the shrine precinct and, according to tradition, are roofed with cypress-bark shingles, so as to harmonize with their natural environment.

The Kasugayama Primeval Forest: the natural environment is an integral element of all Shinto shrines. In the case of Kasuga-Taisha this is provided by Kasugayama, which has been preserved as a sacred forest. There is no form of human intervention beyond the provision of footpaths for worshippers and pilgrims.

The Nara Palace site contains all the elements necessary to meet the official and private requirements of the imperial family. These included the Daigokuden (imperial audience hall), Chôdô-in (state halls), Dairi (imperial residence), offices, workshops, stores, stables, etc. The compound was enclosed by earthen ramparts (Tsuji-ogaki) some 5 m high and crossed by 12 gates. The main entrance was the Suzaku Gate in the middle of the south wall, giving access to the Daigokuden and Chôdô-in, the most important buildings in the imperial complex, used for political ceremonies and banquets.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

In 710 the capital of Japan was transferred by Empress Gemmei from Fujiwara to Nara, which prospered as the political, economic, and cultural centre of the country for the next 74 years, during what is known as the Nara Period. The site of Heijô-kyô was carefully selected in accordance with the Chinese geomantic principles governing the location of an imperial palace. A grand city plan, based on Chinese examples such as Chang'an, was laid out, with palaces, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, public buildings, houses, and roads on an orthogonal grid. It covered an area of 2500ha, and its population is estimated to have been around 100,000.

The palace itself, located at the northern end of the central avenue, occupied 120ha. It comprised the official buildings where political and religious ceremonies took place, notably the Daigokuden (imperial audience hall) and Chôdô-in (state halls), and the imperial residence (Dairi), together with various compounds for administrative and other purposes.

During this period an integrated imperial policy for the promotion of Buddhism was developed and applied from Nara. Emperor Shômu ordered temples and convents to be built in all the provinces, and built Tôdai-ji in 745 as the central provincial temple in Japan.

In 784 the imperial capital moved to Nagaoka for a mere nine years, and then to Kyoto (Heian), where it was to remain until 1184. The site of the abandoned Nara capital became paddy fields.. However, most of the temples and shrines survived intact; they maintained their high status and imperial patronage. As a result a new town developed around them which became known as Nanto (South Capital). The temple area around Tôdai-ji, Kôfuku-ji, Gangô-ji, and Kasuga- Taisha was particularly prosperous, and it was here that the modern city of Nara was to develop in the 16th century.

In 1180, however, Tôdai-ji and Kôfuku-ji were burnt to the ground in a period of internal strife. They were to be rebuilt soon afterwards, at the beginning of the Kamakura Shogunate (1185). Whilst Kôfuku-ji adopted the traditional Japanese Wayô style, however, Tôkai-ji was to be rebuilt in the Daibutsuyô (Great Buddha) style, introduced from Sung Dynasty China.

The Nara temples were to lose their prestige in the Muromachi Period (1333-1572). They suffered grievously from damage by fire: at Tôdai-ji, for example, the Tôtô (east pagoda), Kôdô (lecture hall), Sôbô (priests' living quarters), Kondô (Great Buddha Hall), Chûmon (middle gate), and Kairô (cloister) were all destroyed in different periods of unrest. Some buildings were reconstructed during the early Edo Period (1615-1867), with the assistance of the Shogunate. Although the Kondô was reduced to twothirds of its original floor area, it is still the largest extant wooden structure in the world.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation