The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
It is now a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
The first recorded use of the site dates from the 7th century AD, when King Songtsen Gampo built a palace here.
Construction of the present structure began during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, in 1645 and took divisions of laborers and artisans more than 50 years to complete.
The 13th Dalai Lama extended Potala Palace to the current size.
The multifaceted, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the center of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of 3,700 meters (12,100 feet).
The palace measures 400 meters (1312 feet) east-west and 350 meters (1148 feet) north-south, with slanting stone walls averaging 3 meters (6.5 feet) thick, and 5 meters (16.5 feet) thick at the bottom, and with copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes.
Thirteen stories of buildings — containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues — soar 117 meters (384 feet) on top of Marpo Ri, the “Red Hill”, rising more than 300 meters (about 1,000 feet) in total above the valley floor.
With over 130,000 square meters (1,399,308 square feet) of floor space, is one of the biggest palaces in the world by floor area.
The White Palace or Potrang Karpo is the part of the Potala Palace that makes up the living residence of the Dalai Lama. The White Palace also contained offices, the seminary for training Tibetan government officials and the printing house.