Kiyomizu-dera was founded in 780 by General Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, subduer of barbarian tribes. It is named "Pure Water Temple" (Kiyo-mizu-dera) after a sacred waterfall located on the hillside. The temple was burnt several times by rival monks from Hiei-zan. The present buildings date from the early Edo period (Tokugawa Iemitsu rebuilding). Kiyomizu-dera today belongs to the Shingon-Hosso sect, and is dedicated to the worship of Kannon.
This photo shows the Hondo (Main Hall, reconstructed 1629), with its south veranda rising dramatically on 49-foot pillars against the mountainside of Eastern Kyoto. The veranda consists of a large stage where religious dances were held, with flanking stages on each side for the orchestra.The original Hondo, before the Tokugawa reconstruction, had been the throne-room (Shishin-den) of emperor Kammu when the capital was in Nagaoka. When Kammu moved the capital to Kyoto in 794, he disassembled the Shishin-den and sent it as a gift to Generalissimo Tamuramaro, who in turn donated it to the temple, where it was reassembled on the present site. The building's palace origin accounts for its cypress (hinoki) bark roof, rather than the more usual tiled roof.
A walkthrough of the temple can be found at Asian Historical Architecture.