An ancient city with a history going back over 600 years, the original Tibetan name for the city was Samdruptse, and it has been an important center for trade and commerce for centuries. The ancient U-Tsang kings ruled the area around Shigatse from the Samdruptse dzong , and the ancient fort was once the residence of the U-Tsang governor.

Shigatse once rivaled Lhasa as the major center of spiritual and political power in Tibet, and was the heart of Tibetan culture during the time of the U-Tsang Kings.