The ancient name for Kyoto
when it served as the capital
city of Japan
The previous capital of Nara had become over-run by the Buddhist monastic institutions there and controlled by powerful clan interests.
The Emperor Kammu (737-806) established Heiankyo as a new beginning and thus ushered in the Heian era, a time of prosperity and the arts.
It was here that Murasaki Shikibu composed her masterwork, The Tale of Genji and that Sei Shonagon composed the Makura no Sôshi, better known as The Pillow Book.
Like Nara, Heiankyo was laid out in the grid fashion of the capital of the Chinese Tang dynasty Chang'an but was much larger.
In the Onin War (1467-1477) half of Heiankyo was lost to flames. The Emperor and the Imperial Court lived in a burned-out city until Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98) restored it.