With its royal palace and impressive moat sitting at the foot of a high, pagoda-topped hill, Mandalay still evokes images of a romantic, bygone era. It remains the principal cultural and economic city of upper Myanmar. Located on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, Mandalay also lies within easy striking distance of former colonial hill stations, ancient cities and other cultural attractions.
As the last seat of the Myanmar kings, Mandalay left a bittersweet legacy to the people. King Mindon of the Konbaung Dynasty, who reigned from 1853 to 1878, created this capital out of the wild woodlands at the foot of Mandalay Hill. King Mindon was a deeply religious monarch who made Mandalay and the neighbouring town of Sagaing important centres of Buddhism, with many great pagodas and hundreds of beautiful monasteries and nunneries.