Ulaanbaatar is the capital city of Mongolia. Set in the rolling foothills of the Bogd Mountain range, on the banks of the majestic Tuul River, Ulaanbaatar is the gateway to Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar, historically known as Urga, was originally established in 1639 as a nomadic encampment, which shifted from place to place until it settled in its present location in 1778. The city, situated at an altitude of 1,351 meters above sea level, stretches from east to west across the Tuul River valley. It has a population of around 800 000 and a surface area of 135,800 hectares. Holy mountains surround it; the Bogd Uul Mountain to the south, the Songino Mountain to the west, the Bayanzurkh Mountain to the east, and the Chingeltei Mountain to the north. The city has the only international airport in the country and the Trans-Siberian railway crosses Mongolia from north to south, stopping in Ulaanbaatar, connecting Moscow and Beijing.
Chinggis Khaan Square
This large and famous landmark is the heart of Ulaanbaatar where the Parliament, the Government House, Stock Exchange, and many other important establishments are concentrated. It was named after Sukhbaatar, the famous patriot, whose statue is the main attraction on this square. In 2008 Chinggis Khaan’s and his two successors’ monument was built on the north of the square for the 800th anniversary of the Mongolian Empire. Since 2014 Mongolian government changed the name as Chinggis Khaan square
National History Museum
The museum houses a rich collection of historical and ethnographic exhibitions dating back to the period when first human beings resided in Central Asia. It has displayed on several millennia of the history of Mongolia – beginning with the Stone Age, running through the Turkic and Mongol empires, the rise of Buddhism, the communist regime and ends with a colorful display of contemporary society. (more about Mongolian History museum)
Mongolia’s largest and most important monastery, one of Ulaanbaatar’s most interesting sights, Gandan Monastery was built in the mid 19th century. It is the only monastery where Buddhist services continued during the socialist period. Today, visitors flock to the monastery’s temples during religious services, which start at 10 a.m. and last until midday. The Migjid Janraisag Temple functions as an important part of Gandan Monastery, as the majestic, bejeweled statue of Migjid Janraisag, rests under its roof. The 26-meter high 20-ton statue is a copy of another that was destroyed in the 1920s by communists. The statue was built using donations from Mongolian people as a symbol of Buddhist revival in the mid-1990s. (more about gandan)
The Natural History Museum
If you like dinosaurs, you will want to visit The Natural History Museum. A remarkably intact tarbosaurus skeleton (a close cousin of Tyrannosaurus Rex) awaits visitors in the paleontological section, as do fossilized eggs and the bones of several other specimens. Taxidermists have also preserved a number of Mongolian animals and birds, as well as creatures from outside Mongolia and even outside Asia, but some of these displays are in sorry need of upkeep. The museum is a 3-minute walk to the northwest of Sukhbaatar Square.
The Museum of Fine Arts
A great sculptor and artist, Zanabazar was also the first theocratic ruler of Mongolia. Some of his work accounts for the most beautiful and popular exhibits at his eponymous museum. The Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum also contains a full collection of artworks by other artists, principally sculptors and painters, from Mongolia’s ancient era to the present. The museum houses a number of rock inscriptions, graphic arts, Buddhist tankas, embroideries, and unique tsam dancing costumes. It is located near the Trade Development Bank Headquarters.
(more about Zanabazar Museum)
Opera and Theaters
The Drama Theater or Opera /Ballet House and State Circus offer a fascinating array of folk shows, national or classic opera and ballet, and amazing contortionist performances.
Choijin Lama Monastery
This complex of temples was built between 1904 and 1908 for the Choijin Lama (a monastic title) Lubsankhaidav, the State Oracle and younger brother of the eighth Bogd Gegeen, and is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Mongolia. This is the only museum where all religious objects are kept ready for Buddhist chanting ceremonies and this is why it is called a temple museum. The museum is famous for its collection of Buddhist artworks, original silk icons, and tsam dancing masks. (explore more about Choijin Lama)
Winter Palace of Bogd Khan
Built between 1893 and 1903, the Winter Palace of Bogd Khan was the home of Mongolia’s last king Javzun Damba Khutagt VIII. This complex of temples and houses contains a number of Buddhist artworks and the private collection of the Bogd Khan, composed of gifts from rulers and kings from all over the world. The artworks displayed here were made by the top Mongolian, Tibetan, and Chinese master-sculptors of the 18th and 19th centuries and represent the gods of the Buddhist pantheon. (explore more about Bogd Khan)
Located to the south of Ulaanbaatar, Zaisan Hill Memorial was erected on the 50th anniversary of the Communist Revolution and honors the Soviet and Mongolian soldiers who died in WWII in the fight against Japan and Nazi Germany. To the next monumental statue of the soldier, a mosaic composition on a large circular panel in reinforced concrete illustrates the theme of friendship between Mongol and Soviet peoples. In the center of it, a large granite bowl holds an eternal flame. A good view can be had over the capital.