Architecture is one of the most striking physical features of Bhutan. Bhutanese architecture is famous for its originality and its adaptation to the landscape. Bhutanese architectural forms comprises of chortens (stupas), stone walls, temples/monasteries, fortresses, mansions and houses. The first recorded buildings in Bhutanese history were the temples of Lhakhang Karpo and Nagpo in Haa, Kyichu in Paro, Jampa Lkhakhang, Geyney Lhankhang and Koenchog-sum in Bumthang. They were built around the 6th and the 7th centuries. From the 11th century until the early 17th century, numerous lamas and their disciples built temples and monasteries all over the country. From the buildings dating back to the 17th century that still exist, it can be seen that they were relatively small structures with a courtyard enclosed within their walls. In most cases they were only one-storied built close to the temples were the lama’s residence with the quarters for his disciples. Among the most active temple-builders in the 15th century were Ngawang Choegyal, the great grandfather of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and Tertoen Pema Lingpa.
In the early 15th century, the saint Drubthop Thangthong Gyalpo, also revered as Chagzampa, visited the country and built iron bridges in different parts of Bhutan. The architectural landscape changed in the 17th century when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal introduced the construction of dzongs which became the model for all monasteries built or restored from that time. The dzongs – themselves imposing 17th century structures built on a grand scale without the help of any drawings and constructed entirely without nails – are outstanding examples of the best in Bhutanese architecture. Patterns of rich colors adorn walls, beams, pillars and doors in traditional splendor. After Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, one of the most active temple builders was the 4th Desi, Tenzin Rabgye, who at the end of the 17th century had Taktshang and Tango built in their present form. From the second half of the 19th century and especially after the earthquake of 1905, temples and dzongs were restored and palaces were built.