An ancient town of Tibet, it was once the political and economic center of the former Tibetan area of Tsang, and is an important historical and cultural place in Shigatse Prefecture. The location in the Nyangchu Valley is a strategic position on the ancient trade routes, and it played an important role for pilgrims from the outer reaches of Tibet heading for Lhasa.

The Tibetan name, Gyantse, means “the summit of the victory and the residence of the King”, and when British soldiers invaded tsang in 1904, the local Tibetan people defended the city against the invaders for several weeks. Even after their ammunition and supplies ran out, the heroic townspeople held on for another three days before they were overrun.