Ulaanbaatar (Улаанбаатар), also known as Ulan Bator or simply just UB, is the capital of Mongolia. With a population of around 1.3 million, it is the largest city in Mongolia, standing as its political, commercial, industrial and cultural hub. For business and pleasure trips alike, you will find yourself coming to the city at least once. Knowing and exploring the city properly can help you understand the country’ history and its wonderful people. One will often see the past and the present are still living side by side.
In the history of the Mongolian people, there have been several well-known cities built as capital cities such as Kharakhorum during the 13th century Great Mongolian Empire. But none of them survived as an active capital city until the 16th century. With the active introduction of Lamaism in Mongolia from the 16th century, permanent monastic establishments started to emerge when Tibetan Buddhism flourished. The most important of such settlements was the residency palace of Mongolia’s first spiritual leader named Zanabazar or Jebtsundamba Khutuktu in the year 1649. The year is now considered as the founding date of Mongolia’s modern capital city, Ulaanbaatar. The city was first named Ikh Khuree, literally meaning “large circle” as the city was circular shaped. After changing locations in the central part of Mongolia over 20 times, it settled at its current location in the year of 1778. Much of the modern architecture of Ulaanbaatar started to shape in the 20th century with the influence from Russian architecture. The modern day UB showcases a mix of Soviet architecture, ger settlements, Buddhist monasteries and 21st century high rises. Among Buddhist temples, most notables are the Gandan Tegchinlen Monastery, Choijin Lama Temple and Bogd Khan Winter Palace Museum .