Located on the hill of Marpo Ri (“the Red Hill”) at 3,700 meters above sea level, the magnificent Potala Palace was once the seat of the Tibetan government and the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas.
The first construction by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century AD was for greeting his wife, the Chinese Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). The construction of the architecture that we see at present began during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1645 and took more than 50 years for the laborers and artisans to complete.
The layout of the Potala Palace includes the rooftop White Palace (the eastern part of the building), used for the living quarters of the Dalai Lamas, and the central Red Palace, used for religious functions. The most stunning chapels of the Red Palace house the jewel-bedecked golden stupa tombs of several previous Dalai Lamas.
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