Photo by Lt. J. R. Weir ; circa 1930; Tibet House US Old Tibet Photographic Archive
The magnificent Potala Palace was the Winter Palace of the Dalai Lamas and is Lhasa's cardinal landmark and a World Heritage Site. Perched upon Marpo Ri hill, 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, the Potala rises a further 170 meters and is the greatest monumental structure in all of Tibet. The Potala was first and foremost the residence of the Dalai Lamas, since the Great Fifth began its construction in 1645 up to 1959 when the 14th Dalai Lama was forced to flee into exile. Famous stories about the 14th Dalai Lama's childhood in the Potala, where he lived until he was 24 years old, tell of him exploring the city from the roof-top through telescopes and binoculars, as he was prevented from playing with other children his age outside of the Palace.