The Potala appeared as a red citadel. The entire compound covered 5 acres of lands and the building stood ten stories tall. The first three stories were solid stone. The next two stories had arrow slits. Square windows decorated the sixth, seventh, and eighth stories. The ninth and tenth stories were ringed by wooden balconies that overlooked the entire city.
All who entered the Potala were blindfolded and carefully escorted by the sohei through a series of secret tunnels and passages.