Potala Palace: Lhasa, Tibet
At the very center of Tibet is the capital city of Lhasa, and in the middle of Lhasa is the heart of Tibet, the Potala Palace. This extraordinary building was erected more than 13 stories high on a mountain face and stretches more than 1,000 feet (304 meters) along a snowcapped ridge. Its gold towers can be seen 12 miles (19 kilometers) away, and for more than three centuries, this spectacular building served as the residence of the Dalai Lama, as well as a monastery, mausoleum and governmental offices. That all changed in 1959, when the People's Liberation Army of China ousted the Dalai Lama and took control of Tibet and the palace. Now, this once sacred place is a museum with more than half a million tourists visiting annually.