Lhasa (/ˈlɑːsə/; Tibetan: ལྷ་ས་, Wylie: lha sa, ZYPY: Lhasa, [l̥ásə] or [l̥ɜ́ːsə]; simplified Chinese: 拉萨; traditional Chinese: 拉薩; pinyin: Lāsà; sometimes spelled Lasa) is the administrative capital and a prefecture-level city of the Tibet Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China. It is the second most populous city on the Tibetan Plateau, after Xining, and at an altitude of 3,490 metres (11,450 ft), Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world. The city contains many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang temple and Norbulingka palaces, many of which are located in Chengguan District, the city seat.
Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, started the construction of the Potala Palace in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (died 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. It may overlay the remains of an earlier fortress, called the White or Red Palace, on the site built by Songtsen Gampo in 637. Today, the Potala Palace is a museum.