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Mandalay, ?The City of Art?, is located within the centre of Myanmar, which was formerly known as Burma. It was founded in 1857 and up until the British conquered it in 1885, it was the capital of the kingdom of Burma. Twenty-four hundred years after the death of Buddha, King Mindon ordered the 150,000 inhabitants of Amarapura to relocate here.
The well preserved Shwenandaw Monastery is one of the last examples of the traditional monasteries whose splendor once made Mandalay famous. The complex has all the architectural elements of a typical Burmese monastery but it is its beautiful wood carvings that are the most striking.
To the north of the city is the 236 metre high Mandalay Mountain that dominates the plains below. The tree covered mountain is dominated by the towers of many temples and as Buddha once lived on this mountain, it is considered to be extremely sacred and thus contains several pagodas and shrines.
Amarapura, the ?Immortal City?, is situated in the south. It was the first of the country?s royal cities and today it is a small town in which its inhabitants earn their living from weaving.
On the western hills are some of the most elegant and splendid monastery complexes such as the U Min Thonzeh Pagoda where forty five Buddha figures stand in a semi-circle, dignified and benign.
Once known as the Centre of the World and today the religious and financial centre of the region, Mandalay lies at the heart of Burmese culture.