POTALA PALACE - TIBET
Perched upon Marpo Ri hill, 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, the Potala Palace rises a further 170 meters and is the greatest monumental structure in all of Tibet. This name probably derives from Mt. Potala, the mythological mountain abode of the Bodhisattva Chenresi in southern India. In 641, upon marrying Princess Wencheng, Songtsen Gampo decided to build a grand palace to accommodate her and to serve as a memorial to this important event. However, the original palace was destroyed by lightening and war damage during Landama's reign. In 17th century under the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Potala was rebuilt. Potala comprises both the White Palace and the Red Palace. The former is a secular building while the latter is sacred. The interior space of Potala has 130,000 m2. The Potala was first and foremost the residence of the Dalai Lama and his large staff. It housed a school for religious training of monks and administrators; and it was one of Tibet's major pilgrimage destinations because of the tombs of past Dalai Lamas.