The modern urban planning of Yangon was extended around Sule Pagoda which was seen as the heart of the city. At the same time, the pagoda has been a symbolic focal point of the Burmese democratic movement.
The gold-plated Sule Pagoda in octagonal shape is believed to be built 2,600 years ago. Before Buddhism was introduced to Myanmar, the country had its local belief with 37 nats which are spirits worshipped in Myanmar. The nats represent different elements in nature, like mountains, trees and rivers, and one of them is Sularata. The place where the Sule Pagoda stands used to enshrine Sularata. As Buddhism was introduced to the country, the site was changed into a pagoda where statues of Sularata are still housed.
Apart from its religious significance, Sule Pagoda served as a rally point in two important democratic movements. In the 8888 Uprising in 1988 and Saffron Revolution in 2007, the pagoda was a starting point for the march. During the latter movement, thousands of monks, who enjoy high status in Burmese society, gathered to pray around the pagoda, adding more impact on the revolution.