Today we introduce a somewhat unusual resource, the site Asian Historical Architecture. This collection of user-donated materials provides a photographic survey of architectural heritage across Asia, taking “Asia” in a refreshingly broad interpretation. Background information and virtual tours are available for cities in twenty-one different countries from Japan and China to Afghanistan and Bhutan. Over 25,000 photos are available for almost 1,000 locations, which one can access from a simple drop-drown menu on the left-hand side of the site.
Once you have selected a country and a city within that country, a thumbnail list of important architectural sites appears with a short description of the location and the century of which it is representative. The page often provides a brief summary of the historical and geographical background of that city, including maps and bibliographic references for the information. From there, you can click on the site you are interested in.
For Japan, the well-known areas such as Nara, Kyoto, Tokyo, etc., are of course well-represented, but you’ll also find less common locations, such as Takayama, which features fascinating sites such as early nineteenth-century merchant homes and eighth-century temples. Explanations and photos of each location are included, and in some cases there are even floor plans so that one can explore the architecture visually in a number of ways.
The site offers an advanced keyword search option if you are looking for a particular type of architectural feature or historical term across countries, an interactive map if you wish to explore each country’s sites with their physical geography in mind, and a separate bibliographical page organized by country for convenience. Anyone can contribute to the site’s information, so it may be wise to use these materials with this open-source approach in mind as a starting point for further exploration, but many of those listed on the contributors page are quite reputable professors and professionals. Those interested in researching architecture across Asia or just taking a visual journey to a new place through photography will likely get a lot out of this site! Enjoy!