Modern day Mongolia is a true dichotomy as half the people remain in the countryside tending their horses, camels, goats, sheep and cows retaining all the old traditions whilst on the other hand the other half have migrated to the bustling city Ulaanbaatar.
UlaanbaatarUlaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is located in north central Mongolia on the bank of the Tuul River. The pine covered mountains, wide boulevards, squares, parks and ger communities, which surround the capital monastery and cover the slopes north of the city, combine to give the city a spacious, rustic feel.
Ulaanbaatar, historically known as Urguu, was established in 1639 by a lord of the Khalkha tribe, Tusheet Khan Gombodorj, when he named his five year old son Zanabazar head of the Buddhist religion in Mongolia. The Nomadic encampment shifted from place to place until 1778 when it settled in its present location north of the Bogd Khan Mountain.
Urguu grew quickly, eventually becoming the religious, commercial and administrative center of the country. Despite the town’s importance, most of the citizens lived in gers, grouped according to social position, occupation and nationality.
There were districts for monks, lords, merchants, craftsmen and Russian and Chinese inhabitants, all covered by the living Buddha, Bogd Khan.
In 1924, after the people’s revolution, the city was renamed Ulaanbaatar (Red Hero) in honor of Sukhbaatar, a hero of the revolution.
Points of interest include the natural history museum with its fine collection of dinosaur fossils; the Bogd khan winter palace museum, displaying the elaborate ceremonial robes of the last living Buddha and his consort along with the personal effects of the eccentric theocrat; the fine arts museum, housing much of Mongolia’s exquisite Buddhist art along with more modern Gandan Monastery functioning much as it has for centuries. The City also boasts a lively performing arts scene. Visitors can enjoy folk performances at the opera, ballet and drama theater or visit the state circus to see Mongolia’s world-renowned acrobats.
Gandan MonasteryGandan Monastery is the largest and most significant monastery in Mongolia and one of Ulaanbaatar 's most interesting sights. Established in 1935, it is the only monastery where Buddhist services continued to function even during the communist past. Temples are flocked by visitors during religious services that start at 10 a.m. and last until mid day.
The Migjid Janraisig Temple is an important part of Gandan Monastery. The temple houses the majestic new gilded statue of Migjid Janraisig, decorated with jewels. This 26 meter high 20 ton statue is a copy of another statue that was destroyed in the 1920's by communists. The statue was built with donations of Mongolian people as symbol of Buddhist revival in the mid 1990's.
Choijin LamaThe Choijin Lama Temple, built in 1904-1908 is a classic example of the traditional Buddhist architecture. This was the home of Luvsan Haidav Choijin Lama, brother of Bogd Khaan and a prominent lama. The museum is famous for its collection of Buddhist art works, original silk icons and tsam dancing masks.
International Intellectual MuseumInternational Intellectual Museum displays over eleven thousand intellectual items from 130 countries around the world. All the items are classified into 15 subcategories in order to make visitors understand a scientific nature of the exhibits. For example, collection of over 200 different Mongolian puzzle chess sets made of gold, silver, gemstones and wood using interlocking methods and among them the smallest and the biggest Mongolian puzzle chess sets in the world are displayed. Moreover these famous puzzle exhibits include ‘Eiffel Tower’, ‘Statue of Liberty’, ‘Egyptian Pyramid’,’ Maugli’, ‘Ancient Temple’, ‘Sea Angel’, ‘Puzzle Spaceship’ which is composed of 673 different wooden pieces interlocked and requires 5000 locking tricks, ‘Mickey Mouse’, ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Cat Master’ and ‘The Doll’.
Main SquareThis is the main square in the heart of Ulaanbaatar . A large statue of Sukhbaatar, the famous patriot characterizes the square, and the square is named after this historic figure. Such important buildings as the Parliament House, Stock Exchange, the Drama Theater and Cultural Palace are located surrounding the square.
Bogd khan palace museumThe Bogd khan palace museum was built between 1893 and 1903, was the home of Mongolia 's last king Javzan Damba Hutagt VIII. This complex of temples and houses contain a number of Buddhist artworks and the private collection of Javnzan Damba Hutagt composed of gifts of rulers and kings from all over the world.
Mongolian National MuseumThe museum was established in 1934 and offers the richest collection on the history of Mongolia, from Stone Age to modern times. It allows retrospect the unique culture of the horse riding steppe nomads and their lifestyle. The exhibition contains many artifacts and arts, military equipment and arms of Genghis Khan Warriors. Outside the museum, the large modern sculpture is a memorial for the victims of the 1930s political repression. Also collection included Traditional Mongolian customs & jewelers.
Zanabazar Fine Arts MuseumThe Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum is a full collection of art works by artists, sculptors and painters of Mongolia all generation from the ancient era to the modern time. The museum houses a number of rock inscriptions, graphic arts, Buddhist tankas, embroideries, unique Tsam dancing costumes. The most valuable and beautiful exhibits include works of Zanabazar, the great sculptor and artist of the 17th century, who is also the first theocratic ruler of Mongolia.
Mongolian military museumThe Mongolian military museum was founded in 1996 by subordinating to the Ministry of Defense. The Mongolian military museum has approximately 8000 possessions related to the history of Mongolian army. Divided into 2 halls, east hall shows Mongolian military history from Stone age to the period of Manch occupation. The west hall displays post-independence military history (1921 to nowadays) There are 2000 items on display including flags, uniforms, weapons (Gun made in 1372) Branch museum is house museum of commander Jukov from Soviet Union.
Zaisan HillThis tall landmark in front of the city and downhill of Bogd Khan MT offers the best views of Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding nature. The large monuments on the top of the hill were erected for the memory of Russian and Mongolian heroes died in the World War II. There's also a huge Buddhist statue at the bottom.
“13th Century National Park”“13th Century National Park” is located in Erdene country, Yol mountain 96km from Ulaanbaatar. The 13th century national park is build and established for real-time kingdom to make the lively feeling for its guests during their stay by genuinely providing true environment of the way of living and working of the 13th century. All the atmosphere is real and magnificent with no electric pole, no radio and TV. Visitors can enjoy annual celebrations, customs such as making felt cover for ghers, sling wool, sacred ceremony to praise flag, heaven by sacrificing, wedding, weeping camel, mare milking, sealing folks and organizing three games of men. Here the guests can dine with Khans and Queens visit the residents of lords and learn to write in Mongolian scripts and play in horse-headed fiddle /Morin khuur/.
Mandshir MonasteryFor the 350 monks who once called this place home, the gorgeous setting around this monastery must have been a daily inspiration. Like most monasteries in Mongolia, Mandshir Khiid was destroyed in 1937 by Stalin’s thugs, but was partially restored in the 1990s. Just 6km northeast of Zuunmod and 46km by road from Ulaanbaatar, the monastery is a perfect half-day trip from the capital, or can be used as a starting point for hikes into the Strictly Protected Area.
The main temple has been restored and converted into a museum, but the other buildings in the area remain in ruins.