According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, there are seventeen World Heritage sites in Kyoto. (there are twenty in the United States) These are sites that have been deemed to be of particular importance to the people of the world and get funding from the United Nations. The funny thing is that it didn't seem to matter to Kyoto (i.e. there weren't any fun colorful maps that said "Visit UNESCO Kyoto" or even designate which sites were or were not UNESCO sites) and most of the time the UNESCO plaques were tucked out of the way, as though the people of Kyoto were saying "yeah, we always knew this was important, we don't need you to tell us."
We managed to hit six of these sites (and are quite proud of that - you could easily spend over a week just trying to get to all the available sites in Kyoto): Ginkakuji Temple; Nijo Castle; Ryoanji Temple; Tenryu-ji Temple; Toji Temple; and Ninna-ji Temple. Needless to say, they were all spectacular. Nijo had incredible interior paintings (that you are not allowed to photograph) and these things called "nightingale floors" that squeeked in this indescribable way when you walked to alert people of intruders. Ryoanji is renowned for their zen rock garden. Toji Temple was hosting a flea market, and definitely felt the most urban of the sites we visited. Most of the rest were full-on temples, but some were former castles that were later turned into temples.
We also went to several smaller sites such as Honen-in Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, and Shoren-in Temple (as well as really small little shrines like my favorite that had mice!)Mouse Shrine!
Honestly, they were all unique and beautiful and peaceful, but I'm not sure if I have anything more of value to say about them. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to see them, and it can definitely be mind-blowing to think "this was built before America was discovered by the Europeans."