It was here on Mount Hiei that the monk Saicho (767-822) established the first Tendai monastery in Japan. Enryakuji became a great center of Buddhist learning that influenced all schools of Buddhism in Japan for centuries. At its peak Enryakuji had as many as 3,000 sub-temples and an army of warrior monks to protect them.
The warlord Oda Nobunaga destroyed most of the original structures in 1571. Most of the current structures date from the 16th and 17th centuries.