The Potala Palace is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery and fortress located in Tibet. It was originally built as a residence for the Dalai Lamas of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and served as their seat of power until 2009.
The palace features many important religious artifacts, including stupas and shrines, painted walls and carvings, glittering gold and silver sculptures, and artwork from various eras of Tibet’s history.
This timeless monument stands apart as a shining jewel in Tibet’s ancient landscape, known the world over for its intricate beauty.
From priceless sculptures to dazzling golden stupas, this palace is a true testament to Tibetan history – making it an essential UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Potala Palace Facts for Kids
- Potala Palace is in Lhasa, Tibet.
- It was the home of the Dalai Lama.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The palace is over 1,300 years old.
- It is the highest palace in the world.
- The palace has over 1,000 rooms.
What is the Potala Palace?
The Potala Palace is an iconic example of Bhutan and Tibetan Dzong-style architecture.
It was initiated by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1645 and found its namesake in Mount Potalaka, which is said to be the mythical home of Avalokiteśvara.
The palace measures 1,300 feet east-west and 1,500 feet north-south and contains 13 stories with over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines, and about 200,000 statues.
What is Dzong Fortress Architecture?
Dzong Fortress Architecture is a style of fortress architecture that typically occurs in Bhutan and Tibet.
These fortresses are characterized by huge external walls that house complexes containing courtyards, temples, administrative offices, and accommodations for monks.
Why was the Potala Palace Created?
The construction of the Potala Palace began with an initiation from the 5th Dalai Lama, who wished to build a palace that honored Mt.Potalaka – believed to be the home of Avalokiteśvara due to its immense spiritual energy.
After 1645 decades of construction went into perfecting this architectural wonder resulting in what most people know as the famed Potala Palace today.
What is the Architecture of Potala Palace?
The Potala Palace is an iconic architectural landmark in the city of Lhasa, Tibet. It was built on the side of Ri Marpo, also known as Red Mountain. Its unique design deviates from the traditional fortress and features a large enclosed space at its southern base with grand porticos on the inner side.
The most recognizable feature is the ‘red palace’ located centrally, which has been painted red to stand out amidst other structures. The southern front displays two huge thangkas depicting Tara and Sakyamuni that are hoisted together.
This prestigious world heritage site is known for its intricate detailing and painstakingly crafted mural decorations featuring subtle hues of vibrant colors that reflect Tibetan art forms.
Its hallmark consists of elaborately decorated chapels, assembly halls, and stupas containing sacred relics.
To grasp the beauty of this edifice, one must understand the meaning behind its heavenly architecture, which incorporates five distinct sections representing various aspects: earthquakes base, grand sutra chambers, a main temple assembly hall, and external wings comprising four stories as well as an extra uppermost house.
The Majestic Potala Palace
The Potala Palace is an iconic, centuries-old palace located at the highest altitude of 12,300 feet above sea level.
Divided into two parts – Red Palace and White Palace, it has been a renowned Buddhist pilgrimage site since the 5th Dalai Lama, who originally built it, resided in the Red Palace along with multiple chapels dedicated to religious study.
The White Palace, meanwhile, has served as a residence for ten successive Dalai Lamas and is host to various Tibetan government-related offices such as assembly halls and governmental offices.
Although both parts are renowned for their majestic beauty, what really makes this architectural marvel stand out is its golden roof.
The gilded bronze that composes seven roofs atop the Red Palace gives this ancient edifice its unique charm.
Who is The Dalai Lama?
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibetan Buddhism and head of the Yellow Hat or Dge-lugs-pa order.
The 5th Dalai Lama, Ngag-dbang-rgya-mtsho, also known as the Great Fifth, established dominance of the Dge-lugs-pa sect over rival orders.
The Dalai Lama’s traditional abode is the Potala Palace. It has been home to ten Dalai Lamas for 317 years, housing eight mummies in eight stupas decorated with luxurious jewels.
Visitors are restricted to 2,300 per day so as to protect it.
Every year around a certain time in the Tibet calendar, local people come and paint the walls with a mixture of milk, sugar, honey, and herbs mixed with white lime.
Among all these stupas, which house the 5th Dalai Lama’s remains, are especially grandiose and treasured – covered in 3,700kg of gold and 18k jewels!
Important Facts and Overview
The Potala Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Lhasa, the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region in China. It was originally built in the 7th century as a winter palace for King Songtsen Gampo and was later used as the official residence of the Dalai Lama.
The palace sits atop Marpo Ri (red hill), a hill in the center of Lhasa, and is made up of more than 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines, and 200,000 statues. It is known for its towering white and red walls, which rise up over 13 stories high.
In addition to being a political and religious center, the Potala Palace is also a holy site, containing many stupas and other religious artifacts. It was a major pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists, who came to pray and make offerings at the palace’s many shrines.
After the Chinese government took control of Tibet in the 1950s, the Potala Palace was closed to the public for many years. It was not until the 1980s that it was reopened as a museum and tourist attraction. Despite this, the palace remains an important cultural and spiritual symbol for the Tibetan people.