Detached from the sprawl of central Kathmandu to the east, Bhaktapur is one of the three main cities in the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site. Bhaktapur is arguably Nepal's most atmospheric and picturesque medieval city, much of which is now pedestrianised and well-preserved. The main inhabitants are the Jyapu caste of Newaris who still follow their age-old traditions and customs, linked to their agricultural background. The city is best seen early in the morning and late evening when the tour groups have left, and is a popular place to stay for photographers and those who have a keen interst in architecture. A settlement was first established here in the 9th century when a small community farmed the area's fertile land at a time when Patan and Kathmandu were well-established towns. The town's influence grew over the next three centuries to the point where Nepal was ruled from here during the reign of the Malla dynasty. Bhaktapur continued to flourish as a major urban centre from the 15th century onwards, attracting the best artisans and craftsmen. The city is a labyrinth of ancient monuments, many constructed from the familiar deep-red brick, and home to some of the best examples of Nepali wood and stone carvings. Some of the finest buildings include the Palace of 55 Windows, the five-tiered Nyatapola Pagoda and the gilt copper carved Golden Gate.

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