Potala Palace was the center of Tibetan Buddhism and the seat of the Dalai Lama until the 14th and current Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet and go into exile in India.
The site for Potala Palace was picked out because of its ideal location for governing the region. The 5th Dalai Lama commissioned its construction (as well as Little Potola, Ganden Sumtsenling Monastery, in Shangri-La) in 1645, naming it after Mt. Potalaka the mythical dwelling of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, known for compassion.
The palace grounds are rather immense, holding various important ceremonial buildings and former residence grounds. Today, Potala Palace is an important pilgrimage destination for thousands of practicing Tibetan Buddhists every year.