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Patan has a long Buddhist history, and the four corners of the city are marked by stupas said to have been erected by the great Buddhist emperor Ashoka around 250 BC. Inscriptions refer to the city's 5th-century palaces. The town was ruled by local noblemen until King Shiva Malla of Kathmandu conquered the city in 1597, temporarily unifying the valley. Patan's major building boom took place under the Mallas in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.