Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet. Shigatse Dzong, a Potala lookalaike (but actually its smaller prototype), is overlooking the town from a hilltop. With the help of old photographs, its facade has been restored in recent years and now houses a museum of Tibetan culture. On the foot of the fort you will find the old Tibetan town, which has long been an important trading and administrative centre.
The highlight of Shigatse is Panchen Lama’s Tashilumpu Monastery. It is one of the few monasteries to have survived the Cultural Revolution. It is big enough to be a walled town in its own and busy, cobbled lanes twist around the old buildings. Tashilumpu is seat to the Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual leader of Tibet. It was founded in 1447 by Gedun Drup, who was later recognized as the 1st Dalai Lama. The main statue of this monastery is a Maitreya Buddha made of 275 kg gold, measuring 26m in height. Don’t forget to take a look around Shigatse’s local markets, on which a colourful array of products is sold.