Potala, Tibet, China
The Shrine palace complex is located on the side of Marpo Ri ('Red Mountain') in the center of Lhasa Valley. From the 11th century the palace began to be called Potala, it took its name from the Indian sacred Mount Potalaka, which translated from Sanskrit means "Mystic Mountain". According to the legend in 637 the emperor of Tibet Songtsen Gampo built a nine storied palace for his future wife princess Wencheng. After the disintegration of the dynasty of Songtsen Gampo, lightning struck the building, and wooden structures were damaged and in the course of time it was almost destroyed. The major reconstruction began in 1645 during the board of the 5th Dalai Lama. Afterwards the palace became the winter residence of Dalai Lama. Potala consists of two palaces, White and Red. White palace was built in 1648 and has two halls: the East Main Hall which is the largest pavilion of White palace and The Solar Hall where Dalai Lama habitually rests. The construction of the Red palace began in 1694, in fact it is the highest building of the complex and is situated in the center. The Red palace was the center of spiritual development and place for the Buddhist prayers. The best masters of those times 7000 workers, 1500 artists and craftsmen have worked on the building. The Potala palace height is 119 m, it's 350 m from the east to the west and 270 m from the north to the south, and occupies an area of over 360 thousand square meters. Potala was the basic residence of Dalai Lama, till the conquest of Tibet by China in 1959. Now Chinese government uses the palace as a museum, but, until now it remains a sacred place and place for pilgrimage for many Tibetians.
The Potala palace placed at an altitude of 3767 m and considered to be the highest located ancient castle in the World. It is the result of the bright mind and talent of Tibetans, evidence of their culture and symbol of Tibet. In 1994 Potala palace was included in the list of the world cultural heritage of UNESCO.
By Ruzanna Mkrtchyan, www.biulding.am