Potala Palace features the symbolic architecture of Tibet. The giant palace features many towers, houses and chapels. Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Situated to the side of Red Hill and the Lhasa River, the Potala Palace is the highest palace in the world, residing at an astounding 12,139 feet. Perfectly preserving Tibetan culture, the palace is the top must-see attraction in Tibet.
The palace dates back more than 1,300 years and has been through several reconstructions over the centuries. Originally built in the 7th century, Tibet was ruled by the Tubo Kingdom and Srongtsen Gampo and his two wives, Princess Wencheng of Tang Empire and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal.
When the Bubo Kingdom fell, the palace was almost ruined by constant wars. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the most significant reconstruction of the palace began. The Fifth Dalai Lama began to rebuild the critical Potala Palace, receiving help from the Qing Empire. The tedious work took many years, and finally, the Fifth Dalai Lama moved the government capital from Drepung Monastery to Potala. This made the palace the center of both politics and Buddhism in Tibet. Since then, several smaller reconstructions have taken place; however, the main body of the palace has remained intact.
Here are the top highlights of the Potala Palace.
- Architecture – With 13 layers, the palace was built using woods and stones. The roof features beautiful wood carvings about Buddhism. Divided into two parts, the White Palace was the living quarters for the Dalai Lama and handled both political and Buddhist affairs. The Red Palace is the main building and features different Buddhist chapels, halls and libraries.
- Artwork – The palace is a treasure trove of unique artwork and contains 698 murals and Tangkas, which tell us about historical Tibetan events.
- Religious Treasures – As one of the holiest buildings for Tibetan Buddhism, it houses many stupas of past Dalai Lamas. There are also statues, clay sculptures, stone inscriptions, wood carvings and metal statutes.
If you’re interested in exploring the epicenter of Buddhism, see our list of available tours.