When King Mindon Min founded Mandalay in 1857 he ordered construction of a new Royal Palace called the Mya Nan San Kyaw. The old Royal Palace in the former capital Amarapura was dismantled, transported to Mandalay and rebuilt there.
The Mandalay Royal Palace is the last Palace built by Burmese Royals. On the large complex are dozens of buildings including audience halls, throne halls, a monastery, a watch tower, a court building, a tooth relic building and a library where the Buddhist scriptures were kept.
The citadel with the teak wood Palace
The Palace that was completely made from teak wood was built in the center of a large citadel or fort. The square citadel was surrounded by four walls each 2 kilometers long with a total of 48 turrets. In the walls were 12 gates, one for each sign of the Zodiac. Around the walls was a 60 meter wide moat, crossed by a number of bridges.
In 1885 during the reign of King Thibaw Min the British took Mandalay ending the Konbaung dynasty. The Palace was looted and converted into a fort for the British army. During the second World War the Royal Palace was destroyed by fire after a bombing raid. The only two original buildings that survived are the Royal mint and the watch tower. During the 1990’s the Palace was rebuilt following the original design but partly using modern materials as concrete.
Inside the Palace there are some artifacts on display in glass showcases and several reproductions of thrones. Much of the original artifacts that were in the Palace at the end of the 19th century are still on display in a British museum. Several rooms of the Palace display life size statues of King Mindon Min and his successor King Thibaw Min, the last Burmese King. Today part of the citadel complex is used by the Burmese army, the Palace and surrounding gardens are open to the public.
Buildings of the Royal Palace
The Palace grounds contain dozens of buildings.
The watch tower is a very solid reddish brown cylindrical tower measuring 24 meters high. It is topped by a golden seven tiered Pyatthat roof. The stairway winding around the tower can be climbed, which gives a good overview of the Palace and great views of Mandalay.
The watch tower is one of only two original buildings left, the other one being the Royal Mint.
Tooth relic tower
Close to the main entrance is the Burmese style tooth relic tower. The all white square structure has a small square relic chamber on top and a steep stairway leading to it. In spite of its name the building never contained a relic from the Buddha, it houses a Buddha statue instead.
Supreme Court building
The Supreme Court building is an impressive structure with a multi tiered roof where the King used to dispense justice. Both the building and the roof are in a dark reddish brown color. The finials and roof lines are intricately decorated in gold colors.
A number of Royal Mausoleums was erected for the remains of several members of the Burmese Royal Family. One if for the founder of Mandalay and the Royal Palace, King Mindon Min.
Great Audience hall
The Great Audience Hall is another very attractive, intricately decorated building. The hall is about 75 meters long and topped with a seven tiered Pyatthat roof. In front of it are a few old canons. The wooden bargeboards and eaves boards on the roof are all carved in flower patterns. In the original building there were also gilded.
Lion Throne room
The Lion Throne room contained the Lion Throne, an extremely richly decorated and ornamented wooden throne. In total there were eight thrones in the Palace, of which the Lion Throne was the most important.
On top of the Lion Throne room is a seven tiered Pyatthat roof, richly decorated and gold plated. This Pyatthat marks the center of the Palace.
The Glass Palace is one of the largest and most beautiful structures of the Palace. This building was used as King Mindon’s personal living quarters. It contains two large rooms, one of which contained the Bee Throne, the other one was separated into a number of smaller rooms, which were the King’s living room and bed room, as well as a number of rooms for his Queens.
Golden Palace Monastery
The Shwenandaw Kyaung or Golden Palace Monastery is a very ornate teak building that was originally contained in the Palace compound. It was later moved to its current location just outside the Palace grounds and converted into a Buddhist monastery. The Golden Palace Monastery is the only major all teak building that remains of the original Royal Palace.
How to get to the Mandalay Palace
Mandalay Royal Palace is located in the North end of Mandalay. The huge grounds are found between 12th street in the North and 26th street (National Highway 3) in the South.
Entrance fee & opening hours
The Palace opens daily from 7:30 am until 5 pm. The entrance is the East gate of the citadel. Entrance fee is US$ 5 per person.