Potala Palace - Tibetan residence of the Dalai Lama
Location show on map
35 Central Beijing Road, 850000, Lhasa, Tybet, China
Date of build
Since 614 A.D.
The Potala Palace is the winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, it symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet.
The construction of the current structure began in 1645 during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lady - Lobsang Gyatso and took over 50 years of workers and craftsmen.
The Potala Palace in Lhasa (Tibetan Autonomous Region), was the main residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the Tibetan uprising in 1959. For a total of 317 years it was the seat of ten Dalai Lama.
The first recorded use of this place dates back to the 7th century A.D., when King Songtsen Gampo built a palace here.
At the beginning of the 9th century, after the fall of the kingdom of Tubo, the palace and the whole town was abandoned. Other Tibetan regimes did not have their capitals in Lhasa, so for more than 800 years the Palace was abandoned.
13. The Dalai Lama has extended the Potala Palace to its present size.
The building is 400 meters long in the east-west direction and 350 meters in the north-south direction. Its sloping stone walls have a diameter of 5 meters at the base and 3 meters on top. They are painted with milk and coated with copper in the foundations to protect against earthquakes.
The complex is built on Czerwona Gora in the center of the Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3700 m above sea level and consists of White and Red Palace with auxiliary buildings. The buildings rise 117 meters above the top of the hill and over 300 meters above the bottom of the valley. No other building in Lhasa, be it a new apartment building, branded hotel, old house, temple or monastery, can be higher than the top of Potala Palace, it is a sign of respect for this sacred place.
In total, there are thirteen floors of buildings that contain more than 1,000 rooms, 10,000 chapels and about 200,000 statues.
With more than 130,000 square meters of floor space, it is one of the largest palaces in the world in this respect. Potala Palace was the highest inhabited building in the world from 1653 to 1889.
The White Palace (Potrang Karpo) is part of the Potala Palace, which housed the Dalai Lama's living quarters. The White Palace also housed offices, a training seminar for Tibetan government officials and a printing house.
The Red Palace (Potrang Marpo) is a part that is entirely devoted to religious studies and Buddhist prayer. It consists of complex combinations of many rooms, chapels, libraries, galleries and passages located on many levels. The palace is richly decorated with paintings, sculptures, jewelry and other ornaments. There are also sacred golden stupas, tombs of eight Dalai Lama.
At this part of the palace there are also characteristic golden roofs. Seven roofs are made of gilded bronze and these are the peaks of sacred stupas from the Dalai Lama.
The most important sanctuary is the Holy Chapel in the Red Palace. There is a statue of the Avalokitesvara and its two guardians. Below is the Dharma Cave, the oldest part of Potala Palace, where King Songtsen Gampo studied Buddhist writings after his conversion in the 7th century.
The complex takes its name from the mythical Potalaka Mountain, the seat of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
In 1959, the current Dalai Lama fled to India during the riots against the Chinese military occupation of Tibet and has remained in exile since that year. Then, during the Cultural Revolution (1966-77), the monks were expelled from the complex, and the abandoned palace was plundered and destroyed by Chinese soldiers.
This is now a UNESCO museum and world heritage site since 1994.
Once the building was visited by more than 5000 people per day, later this number was limited to 1600 tourists per day.
"We turned a corner and saw, gleaming in the distance, the golden roofs of the Potala, the winter residence of the Dalai Lama and the most famous landmark of Lhasa." - Heinrich Harrer, Seven Years in Tibet