Potala Palace

Potala Palace

Lhasa’s principal landmark and visible across the city, the Potala Palace is the former seat of Tibet’s government and the winter residence of the Dalai Lama, before he fled to India in 1959. Built on the site of a 7th century palace built by illustrious King Songsten Gampo, the current palace was constructed in the mid-17th century and rises 13 storeys from the top of Marpo Ri (Red Hill).

The Potala has more than 1,000 rooms, many of which you can explore. Many of the rooms contain sacred, jewel-studded stupas, beautiful chapels and prayer halls, whilst you can also see the simple apartments of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas. The palace, along with the Jokhang and Norbulingka Palace, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Potala Palace Map

Eight Facts About The Little Wild Goose Pagoda

The Potala Palace took 50 years to complete.

Zhou Enlai was so enamoured by the Potala that he sent his own troops to protect it during the Cultural Revolution.

One of the Potala’s second floor corridors has 698 painted murals along its length.

The Potala is said to be the highest palace in the world, at 3,500 metres above sea level.

The name ‘Potala’ comes from the sacred Mount Potalaka, the abode of Chenrezig the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

The Potala is spilt into two palaces, the Red Palace and the White Palace. The White Palace contains the living quarters of the Dalai Lama, whilst the Red Palace is devoted to religious study and prayer.

It is thought that copper was poured into the foundations of the palace to help earthquake proof it.

The walls of the palace are 3 to 5 metres thick. 


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