Easily reached from Kyoto by train, Nara was the heart of Japanese cultural and political life from 710 to 794AD, and is packed with shrines and temples. One of the most prominent is the Kasuga Grand Shrine, which was established in 768AD and has been renovated and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The interior is notable for its many bronze lanterns, while almost 3,000 stone lanterns line the pathway to entrance. To reach the shrine you pass through the Nara Deer Park, a wooded area of five hectares and home to a population of more than 1,000 sika deer, which are regarded as divine messengers of the Kasuga shrine. Both the shrine and the nearby Kasugayama Primeval Forest have been designated as Unesco world heritage sites. Also of interest are the Kofukuji temple, the many pagodas in the park, Naramachi old town, Todaiji museum and the Nigatsudo pavilion.