Karakorum, in the Orkhon Valley, was the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire. After the breakdown of the Mongol Empire, in the 17th century, in honor of Zanabazar, famous Mongolian religious leader, painter, sculptor and politician, the new nomadic settlement was named Urga. This migrant city, a large caravan of gers, moving from place to place, finally settled in 1778 in its present location. It changed name several times and in 1924 was renamed Ulaanbaatar, literally the “Red Hero” in honor of Sukhbaatar, the hero of the 1921 Revolution.
The capital city is the hub of international and domestic flights, train service and long distance buses. As the cultural and academic center of the nation, Ulaanbaatar is the seat of major art and culture establishments, museums, and educational institutions.
This tall landmark in front of the city offers the best views of Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding nature. Zaisan Memorial is dedicated to the Victory Day of WW II.
Originally situated in the center of Ulaanbaatar, Gandan Monastery was moved to its present location by the 5th Bogd Jebzundamba in 1838.
Over the next century the Monastery grew to include nine dastans or institutes, a library and housed a community of around 5000 monks. Gandan became an important center for learning and practicing Buddha’s teachings, not only in Mongolia but for the entire Mahayana Buddhist community.
In 1938, the communists suppressed religious communities in Mongolia. They destroyed around 900 monasteries, though a handful was turned into museums. The monks were killed, jailed, or forced to join the army or laity. Five temples of Gandan Monastery were destroyed. The remaining temples were used to accommodate Russian officials or used as barns to keep their horses.
In 1944, after a petition from several monks, Gandan Monastery was reopened but its functions were carried out under the strict supervision of the socialist government.
In 1990, after the Democratic Revolution and with Buddhism flourishing once again, Gandan Monastery embarked on an ambitions restoration program around the country.
Today it is largest active Buddhist temple in Ulaanbaatar, and has more than 800 monks and students, and conduct daily worshipping and services for Buddhists. It also contains 40 meter high Buddha, which was sculpted with donations from Mongolian people in the mid 90s.
The Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum
The Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum is a full collection of art works by artists, sculptors and painters of all Mongolian generations 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 was also the first theocratic ruler of Mongolia.