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The famous Potala Palace in Lhasa was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. Why? Please read the following special facts about the Potala.
1. Once the world's tallest
The Potala Palace was the world's tallest occupied building from 1653 to 1889.
2. Great views
The views from the Potala Palace's roof and balconies are spectacular. Below lies Lhasa city and, beyond, the valley countryside and distant snow-capped Himalayan mountains.
3. The highest palace in the world
The Potala Palace stands on top of Red Hill, at over an amazing 3,700 meters (12,000 feet) above sea level, currently the highest in the world. Therefore, it is advisable to rest during your first day in Tibet to acclimate yourself to the thin air before exploring the Potala Palace.
4. Once a meditation retreat for Tibet King
The site of the Potala Palace was used as a meditation retreat by King Songtsen Gampo, prior to his marriage.
5. Stairs only
The 13-story Potala Palace has no elevator. There are three sets of stairways, which are steep and ladder type. Only the Dalai Lama was allowed to use the middle one.
6. Splendid Artworks
Besides the artistic concentrate of ancient Tibet architecture, Potala Palace is also an art treasure of Tibet.
Mural art is a magnificent part of Potala Palace. Every room, even evrywhere inside the palace, is decorated with colorful, vivid murals. And the 698 murals along the painted second-floor corridor are the most extraordinary , depicting Buddhist stories and the unique scenery, customs and legends of ancient Tibet.
Furthermore, there are also lots of exquisitely-made tangka hanging on the walls.
7. Traditional Tibetan architecture
Potala Palace was originally built more than 1,300 years ago in the 7th century.Because of the damage made by a war, the structure was rebuilt in the 17th century by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Repeated repairs and expansions until 1645 finally brought the palace to its present scale.
The marvelousPotala Palace is made of wood and stones. The walls are all made of granite, and the roofs are all made of wood. The overhanging eaves, the upturned roof corners, the gilded brass tiles and pillars all inscribed with Buddhist scriptures, bottles, and makara fish as well as the gold-winged bird decoration the roof ridges contribute much to the beauty of the hip-an-gable roofs.
8. Spiritual ambiance
The Potala Palace's interior is today filled with the same sounds (chanting) and scents (incense and yak-butter burning lamps) that visitors encountered centuries ago.
9. Treasure of Religions
Potala Palace symbolized Tibetan Buddhism. It housed a school for religious training of monks as well as one of Tibet's major pilgrimage destinations for the tombs of past Dalai Lamas.
In both Red Palace and White Palace, kept lots of precious statues, especially the 2 meters high statue of Tsong Khapa(in East Chapel), a silver statue of Padmasambhava(in South Chanpel), and statues of Sakyamuni, Dalai Lamas and Medicine Bduddha(in North Chapel).
And the murals as well as most inner decoration are about Tibet Buddhism.