The seat of the last rulers of independent Burma, Mandalay Palace was built in the mid-19th century by King Mindon, but is most closely associated with his son, Thibaw, who was expelled from it by General Prendergast in 1885. The complex was commandeered by the British army for use as a bar racks, before being destroyed by Allied bombs in 1945 while it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. The present structures, built by the Tatmadaw in the 1990s, bear little more than a passing resemblance to the richly carved and gilded teak originals. To gain a sense of the architectural splendor of Mindon’s time, visit the Shwenandaw Monastery nearby, a transplanted fragment of the original Glass Palace, and the only piece of the former palace to have survived.
Decorated with mosaic and gilt iron trellis work, this sumptuous building contained the king’s living chambers as well the Bee Throne Room.
Moat, walls, and bastions
Mindon’s palace was encased by 1.2-mile- (2-km-) long walls on each side and a 210-ft- (64-m-) wide moat. Each of the walls had several bastions, and three gateways topped by tall, gold-tipped pyatthat roofs – 12 in total, corresponding to the signs of the zodiac.
Entrance to the palace complex
Most of the area within Mandalay Fort is an army base, and the palace complex is a 15-minute walk in from the east gate. The entrance to the com plex is flanked by a pair of 9.5-ft (3-m) British can non, origi nally cast for the Royal Navy and stamped with the cipher of King George II (1727–60).