Kōfuku-ji was founded in Kyoto in 669 and relocated here in 710. The original Nara temple complex had 175 buildings, though much has been lost over the years to fires and periods of medieval warfare. Of those that remain, the most impressive are the Tōkondō and the temple's two pagodas: the three-storey pagoda dates to 1181 and is a rare example of Heian-era architecture, while the 50.1m five-storey pagoda, last reconstructed in 1426, is Japan's second-tallest pagoda.

The Tōkondō is a National Treasure dating from 726; rebuilt in 1415 (but paying homage to older structures), it houses several important Buddhist statues. The temple's Chūkondō (Central Golden Hall) was rebuilt in 2018 – the first time it had been properly rebuilt since it burned down for the seventh time in 1717; that said, it does look a bit out of place among Kōfuku-ji's more historic structures.

The temple grounds are free to visit, though admission is required to enter some of the structures. If you have to pick just one, make it the Kōfuku-ji National Treasure Museum, which houses the most outstanding pieces of the temple's vast collection of art.