Potala palace - Lhasa
The Potala palace magically rises with its huge white and red walls and golden roofs on the Marpo Ri hill.

Built in the 17th century, it was the hystorical residence of the Dalai Lama's, who lived in the red wall apartments on the top of the builiding. The palace was abandoned in 1959, when the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India after the Chinese occupation.

Few monks and many chinese soldiers are now the only inhabitants of this sacred place, that has become a sad but magnificent museum, full of masterpieces of inestimable spiritual and material value.

In spite of this, pilgrims every day pray and prostrate in front of the Potala, indifferent to cars and bicycles running in the large avenue built by the Chinese government in front of the palace.

A prayer circuit (kora) runs around the Potala, where pilgrims circumambulate, turning hundreds of prayer wheels aligned along the path.

Shops and market stalls flank the kora, where everything is sold: clothes, pots, tools, food, and the inevitable... yak butter.

Fifty years ago the Potala rised alone, a magic island in the plane, at about one mile of distance from the town. Now Lhasa extends for kilometers in all directions and modern ugly Chinese buildings sorround the majestic palace.

The windows of an hotel for rich tourists reflect the image of a broken Potala.