Mandalay Palace was the residence of the last King of Burma and is a hugely important national symbol for the people of Myanmar, as well as one its best tourist attractions. Parts of the palace are normally open to visitors from 07:30 to 17:00 and the entrance fee is $5 for foreign visitors.
About Mandalay Palace
Myanmar, or Burma as it was previously known, has a had a number of different capital cities. The capital moved from nearby Amarapura in 1859 by King Mindon Min who ascended to the throne in 1854. King Mindon Min, who gained the kingdom by overthrowing his unpopular half brother King Pagan, decided to make a definitive break with previous regime by establishing a new palace compound in a new location, although the poor state of the monarchy’s finances at the time meant that that the new palace was largely constructed using materials taken from palaces built in Amapura. The palace remained in use as a royal residence until 1885 when British forces invaded Mandalay. After the last King of Burma, King Thibaw Min, was sent into exile in India the British armed forces used the palace as a military base and stripped out everything of value that could be carried away. The British military continued to use the palace as a base until the Japanese army invaded in 1942 and took control of the palace to store good and munitions. Bombing campaigns by Allied forces toward the end of World War II almost entirely destroyed the palace which was subsequently reconstructed in 1990s in a similar style to the original palace. In some respects Mandalay Palace shares a similar history to the Imperial Citadel in Hue.
Despite the precarious position of the monarchy in Burma at the time, both politically and financially having recently lost Lower Burma to British forces, Mandalay Palace is a massive compound. The site covers 4 square kilometres and dominates the city of Mandalay. The palace is square with a 2 km long wall on each side. Beyond the wall is a moat which is 60 metres wide encircling the entire palace. The moat was designed to protect the palace from traditional siege machines but had no defensive value against the artillery of a late 19th Century European army. The palace itself contained dozen of buildings, most of which were made entirely of teak wood. The modern reconstructions use concrete for the structure with wood cladding on top to produce a similar appearance. The most significant of the structures in the palace are:
- The Great Audience Hall, which is 75 metres long and topped with a 7 tiered Burmese style roof.
- The Glass Palace, which was used as the personal residence of King Mindon Min.
- The Lion Throne room, which housed the intricately carved Lion throne, the most important of the 8 thrones in Mandalay Palace.
- A 24 metre high cylindrical Watch Tower with a staircase spiralling up the exterior of the structure.
Location of Mandalay Palace
- Mandalay Palace is located 2.7 km by road from Mandalay Railway Station.