In Pictures: Myanmar's cultural capital

Mandalay is the country's cultural and religious centre.


Mandalay, the second largest city of Myanmar, is known as the capital city of Burmese culture. It was founded along the Irrawaddy River bank by King Mindon in 1857. Upon its founding, the city was called "Yadanabon",  which means "The City of Gems". The city served as the last royal capital of Burma before the British conquered the city in 1885.

Mandalay is also the centre of Buddhism and has thousands of monasteries. Kuthodaw Pagoda, which is located at the foot of Mandalay Hill, is known as the "world's largest book" for its 729 stupas with stone slabs inscribed with entire Buddhist canon.

Most residents from Mandalay rely on bicycles, motorcycles and old mini pickup trucks for transportation. 1963 models of small Mazda trucks are still used as taxis around the city because taxes on importing new cars are expensive for most of the citizens. The Irrawaddy River is one of the most important commercial waterway for transporting goods and travelling upper and lower parts of Myanmar.

The city is also known for its small white marble scuptures of Buddha. Dozens of stone and wood workshops are still producing these sculptures in the way it has been done since anciet times.