Though Yangon is the present capital, Mandalay, or the “City of Gems”- according to the meaning of its former “Yadana Pon”, remains the country’s cultural center. Situated in the heart of the Upper Myanmar, Mandalay is the economic and religious center of upper Myanmar. Being an old capital of Myanmar Kings, founded in 1857 by King Mindon, Mandalay is abundantly rich in historical memorials and Buddhist monuments as well. The pride of Mandalay is the Royal Palace. It was the seat of the last Konebaung Dynasty, burnt down by bombs during the Second World War and now reconstructed to its present glory. A number of cities can be explored in its vicinity such as Amarapura (the city of immortality), Ava (golden era of Myanmar literature) and Sagaing ? a perfect place to retreat from the stir of life.