The architecture in Tibet is part of the traditions developed in the long process of social development. It reflects the history, politics, economy and culture of the autonomous region. The architecture of Tibet can be categorized into civil use buildings, monasteries and gardens. The civil use Buildings includes residences for common people, mansions for officials and bridges. They laid a foundation for later building of monasteries and castles. The imposing monasteries and grand mansions of lords, the rich and big merchants fully demonstrate the architectural ideas and artistic achievements of Tibetan craftsmen.
The early monasteries were built in relatively densely populated areas, while the later ones were set up on precipitous cliffs or between steep rocks, showing different styles. Small monasteries are sparely furnished, but formal monasteries are usually composed of a sutra hall, Buddha hall, monks' residential areas and houses of Living Buddhas. Most of them have flat roofs. Meanwhile, the magnificent palaces such as the Potala Palace and famous monasteries have gable of hipped gilded roofs. They shine brightly under the sun. The gold roofs are often decorated with bronze bird, precious bottle, golden deer and Dharma, with male goat or fish head sitting at four corners. Down from them will be hung bronze or iron bells, which clash to make pleasant sounds. The sutra and Buddha halls are usually high watchtowers, with bronze or wood prayer wheels in the front gate.