Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage property is inscribed as seven Monument Zones. These monument zones are the Durbar squares or urban centres with their palaces, temples and public spaces of the three cities of Kathmandu (Hanuman Dhoka), Patan and Bhaktapur, and the religious ensembles of Swayambhu, Bauddhanath, Pashupati and Changu Narayan. The religious ensemble of Swayambhu includes the oldest Buddhist monument (a stupa) in the Valley; that of Bauddhanath includes the largest stupa in Nepal; Pashupati has an extensive Hindu temple precinct, and Changu Narayan comprises traditional Newari settlement, and a Hindu temple complex with one of the earliest inscriptions in the Valley from the fifth century AD. The unique tiered temples are mostly made of fired brick with mud mortar and timber structures. The roofs are covered with small overlapping terracotta tiles, with gilded brass ornamentation. The windows, doorways and roof struts have rich decorative carvings. The stupas have simple but powerful forms with massive, whitewashed hemispheres supporting gilded cubes with the all-seeing eternal Buddha eyes.
As Buddhism and Hinduism developed and changed over the centuries throughout Asia, both religions prospered in Nepal and produced a powerful artistic and architectural fusion beginning at least from the 5th century AD, but truly coming into its own in the three hundred year period between 1500 and 1800 AD. These monuments were defined by the outstanding cultural traditions of the Newars, manifested in their unique urban settlements, buildings and structures with intricate ornamentation displaying outstanding craftsmanship in brick, stone, timber and bronze that are some of the most highly developed in the world.
Criterion (iii): The seven monument ensembles represent an exceptional testimony to the traditional civilization of the Kathmandu Valley. The cultural traditions of the multi ethnic people who settled in this remote Himalayan valley over the past two millennia, referred to as the Newars, is manifested in the unique urban society which boasts of one of the most highly developed craftsmanship of brick, stone, timber and bronze in the world. The coexistence and amalgamation of Hinduism and Buddhism with animist rituals and Tantrism is considered unique.
Criterion (iv): The property is comprised of exceptional architectural typologies, ensembles and urban fabric illustrating the highly developed culture of the Valley, which reached an apogee between 1500 and 1800 AD. The exquisite examples of palace complexes, ensembles of temples and stupas are unique to the Kathmandu Valley.
Criterion (vi): The property is tangibly associated with the unique coexistence and amalgamation of Hinduism and Buddhism with animist rituals and Tantrism. The symbolic and artistic values are manifested in the ornamentation of the buildings, the urban structure and often the surrounding natural environment, which are closely associated with legends, rituals and festivals.