Potala Palace

Lhasa, Tibet

A palace was first constructed on this spot by Songtsen Gampo in 631, when that ruler moved the capital to Lhasa. Its present form dates to the 17th century, when it was enlarged and rebuilt by the 5th Dalai Lama. The White Palace (1645) contained the residential quarters, while the Red Palace (upper center of building) contained reliquary chapels and stupas of the Dalai Lamas, the spiritual and temporal rulers of Tibet. When the present (14th) Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959, the palace was converted into a museum.