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    The Putuo Zongcheng monastery was built by Emperor Qianlong to accomodate visits by the Dalai Lama of Tibet. It is modeled on the design of the Potala palace in Lhasa, the residence of the Dalai Lama until the mid-twentieth century. Indeed, the name of the temple complex roughly translates as Potala (Mount Putuo) in Tibetan.

    The ensemble of buildings that comprise Putuo Zongcheng are constructed along a natural hillock to the north of Jingshan mountain where the Imperial Palace is located. Although ostensibly modeled on the Potala palace, Putuo Zongcheng is a clear hybrid of Tibetan influences and Chinese traditional architecture. For example, the lower portions of the monastery, including the stele pavilion and the surrounding gate houses, are bilaterally symmetrical and arranged around a strict quadrangle.

    In contrast, the rest of the temple buildings seem to be scattered about the hill, with the main building sitting on the summit like a crown--this reflects the common practice in Tibetan architecture to use architecture to accentuate pre-existing physical features such as ridge lines and summits.

    According to GPS readings taken on site, the front gate of the temple is located at 41 00.51892' N, 117 55.69203' E (WGS84 map datum).