Essential history — what you need to know about Ulaanbaatar

Mongolian wedding

There is nothing further from nomad’s nature than modern city made of steel and concrete walls. It stifles the Mongolian soul. The one that keeps them moving from one place to another. One day or another they simply had to pack the yurt, take their herds and move forward. They did like this for ages. So their capital. One that you could not find on a map.

It was as late as XIII age, that the Mongolian capital was bound to one land — city Karakorum. Then in 1639 Mongolians moved the capital 250 km on west, to place now called Ulaanbaatar, which was at that time the central point of ancient tea route connecting China and Europe.

How to become immortal in Mongolia?

In that year 4-year old Zanabazar was anointed by then Dalai Lama as Jebtsundamba, the spiritual leader and head of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia. That title guaranteed him full civil and clergy power as well as right to reincarnation. Zanabazar was the first Mongolian ruler, who was recognized as Living Buddha. Not bad deal, huh?

Modern times

The new capital was initially named after Zanabazar’s yurt-palace — Urgi. The city current name is quite new. It originates from 1924, when was chosen to honor Damdin Suche Bator, Mongolian national hero. He become famous for bringing Russian Red Army to Mongolia and winning over remaining Whites, that fled to Siberia.

In this way, Mongolia made sharp leftward political turn. To seal new direction, Mongolians renamed their capital to Ulaanbaatar, what literally means Red Hero.

After that, bones of first neolithic settlers of Ulaanbaatar dated 40 thousands years BC shuddered once again… :)


Instead of work in glass skyscraper, mortgage and couch from Ikea I chosen a travel to unknown. That’s how I landed in China. I burned maps and walked straight ahead. Sometimes the wind whips my eyes, but at least I feel that I am alive.

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