Potala Palace

page 2


Potala Palace
tips & insights

Two palaces

The 1000-room Potala Palace is really two palaces: A red one at the top and a white one below it (see photo on page one).

Red Palace

It is used for religious purposes. It has chapels, shrines and prayer halls. It also contains sacred scriptures, outstanding murals, and the gold covered stupa tombs of eight Dalai Lamas.

White Palace

This was used for secular functions. Its facilities included bureaucratic offices, monk dormitories, a seminary, and the Dalai Lama's living quarters.


The Potala Palace has outdoor ramp steps skirting its flanks (see photo).


The current building was constructed in the 17th century on the foundation ruins of a fortress palace built a thousand years earlier.

Sloping cliff

The cliff face behind the front bottom half of the Potala Palace slopes backward. This enables the hill to bear some of the building's massive gravity induced weight load. The architects added more support by embedding some of the building's structural beams into the cliff.


The government has launched a major renovation project to repair the serious damage caused over the years by wind, rain, timber-eating worms, and a sinking foundation (evidenced by cracks in the walls).

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