Potala Palace

Address: Chengguan District, Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China

When it comes to Tibet, people always think of the magnificent palace on Marpori (Red Mountain) in the north-western side of Lhasa – the Potala Palace.

At the beginning of the seventh century, Songtsen Gampo unified Tibet and established the Tibetan Empire. The emperor built approximately 1,000 palace houses in different scales on Red Mountain and named the place “Potala” which refers to the residence of Guanyin in Buddhist texts. More than 200 years later, the Tibetan Empire fell, and the Potala Palace was almost completely destroyed with only two Buddhist temples remained.

Not until the 17th century did Lhasa become the political centre of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau again. The Potala Palace was reconstructed and continuously expanded. The “White Palace” (PotrangKarpo) for all generations of the Dalai Lama, “Red Palace” (PotrangMarpo) consisting of the palaces that contain the tombs of the Dalai Lamas and other Buddhist temples, corridors and gardens were built during this period.

Starting from the fifth Dalai Lama, all the Dalai Lamas have resided in the Potala Palace. Important religious and political ceremonies were held in the palace, making the venue the centre of Tibetan caesaropapism. The grand Potala Palace, built on the hill, exhibits the distinctive Tibetan Buddhist and Tibetan architectural styles. The exterior of the palace was painted in red, white and yellow which represent solemnity, tranquillity and completion respectively.