Regardless of how much pre-departure reading you may have done, Lhasa will overwhelm you with its extraordinary sights. And its not only the altitude (3,650m) that will take your breath away. The Magnificent Potala Palace, former seat of the Dalai Lamas, presides over the city. Built in 1645 at the top of a hill, the palace contains 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 religious statues. Its mural paintings, finely worked golden roofs and other artworks are something to see.The old city revolves around the Jokhang Temple and the quaint Barkhor Bazaar that surrounds it. The Jokhang, built in the seventh century,is the holiest Buddhist shrine in Tibet and houses theJowo Sakyamuni brought to Tibet from Nepal. Its mural paintings finely worked golden roofs and other artworks are something to see. At a little distance from the old city core, Lhasa is also a modern capital of concrete high-rises, fancy department stores and wide boulevards.Norbulinkha, which means the jeweled garden, consists of 360,000 sq. m of wooded greenery and three palaces once used by the Dalai Lamas as a summer retreat. The Drepung Monastery lies about 10km from the city. Built in 1416 by a disciple of Tsong Khapa, it is the largest in Tibet. The Sera Monastery, about 5km north of Lhasa, is another important center of Buddhist learning. Built in 1419, it houses a nine-meter figure of Maitreya.