A friend tells me that she likes exotic destinations and that she is dying to get lost in the streets of Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. I understand it, sometimes it is necessary to go to a totally different place to understand how vast the world is.
Far more not unreachable. Complex but not incomprehensible. This is how Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, a sovereign state of East Asia located between China and Russia really very big and inhabited by just three million people. Let us know its capital and gateway. Does it really have charm?
Mongolia is landlocked and its typical landscapes are its extensive meadows, mountains and the fantastic Gobi desert. Like the capital, Ulan Bator concentrates almost half of the total population of the country. To visit it you must process a visa In their corresponding embassies around the world or in the same airport if your country does not have an embassy, it costs 53 dollars and lasts a month, although you must have an invitation from a Mughal tourism agency.
Mongolia it is the country of horses and has been ruled by different empires, the best known of which was founded in the XNUMXth century by Genghis Khan. His grandson came to dominate China and led the Yuan dynasty in that country, although over time the Mongol empire declined and the Mongols, expert horsemen, undertook a retreat to these lands, their original lands.
Mongols are mostly Buddhist, a religion that arrived with the Manchu Chinese from the seventeenth century. At the beginning of the 90th century the country declared its independence and was assisted by the Soviet Union to maintain this courageous declaration. With the fall of communism, it began its own democratic process in the XNUMXs.
Almost a million and a half people live in Ulan Bator. The city is in the north of the country about 1300 meters, in the valley of the river Tuul. It was founded in the middle of the seventeenth century by the hand of Buddhist monks and the current name was adopted in 1924 being its translation Red Hero or Red Hero City.
Around it are green forests with pine, elm, willow and birch trees. The city is at the same altitude as Vienna or Munich, just as a fun fact, but It is the coldest capital city in the world. It is not convenient for you to go in January because it can easily be -40ºC and although it is not at all frequent there may be some other super hot summer with more than 35ºC. It is worth knowing that the city is divided into nine districts.
The central district is from Soviet times and you will see that type of concrete construction, monoblocs and a lot of gray. Later, to visit, there are squares, museums, avenues and memorials. Let's see what they are.
The central square is the Chinggis Square with his monument honoring Genghis Khan and other Khans. Around him is the government palace and other important ministry and bank buildings. The Lama Choijin Temple It is a complex of temples built at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. It houses an ancient statue, silks, paintings, wood carvings, masks and valuable religious instruments. It is a museum so you can visit it.
El Gandantegchinlen Monastery It is Buddhist and in the 90's it has been restored. Today it is inhabited by 150 monks and is known for its Avalokitesvara statue over 26 meters High. In Stalin's time the government destroyed many temples and killed thousands of monks but this particular temple was spared from the purge and survived for decades until communism expired.
The original copper statue was dismantled in 1938 but was reassembled in the 90s thanks to the collaboration of the people. It has thousands of precious stones and today it also has a gold covering. You can also visit the Zaisan Memorial and take some great photos of the city. This memorial honors Mongolian and Soviet soldiers who fought in WWII and the views are assured since it is on a hill to the south of the city.
There is a colorful mural that recalls the Soviet aid to Mongolia when the Japanese army tried to advance, also the fight against the Nazis or the arrival in space of the first Mongol in the Soviet space race. Today you can also see a Soviet tank along with a map of the route the brigade traveled from Moscow to Berlin.
El Bogd Khan Winter Palace Today it is a museum and is the only residence of the former Mongol emperors that has remained standing. It was built in the late XNUMXth century in Chinese style and is a complex of six temples with a lot of Buddhist art. It is on the outer cordon of the city but you have to know it.
As you can see, it is not that the city is super touristy but after knowing these places you can go to visit national parks around or nomadic tribes that have roamed the Mughal prairies for centuries. The landscapes are unforgettable, that's for sure. Yes, you have to travel, sometimes more than 700 kilometers (if you want to know the Khuvsgul Lake, for example, the second largest freshwater lake in the world), but wow its worth it.
Practical information for visiting Mongolia
The best time to visit Mongolia is from May to September. He Naadam Festival, unmissable, is in July. Although July and August are wet months, they are still the best. If your destination is the Gobi desert then June to September is the date.
Although in the capital there are hotels to move around the rest of the country, the usual are the typical camps or Ger where between two and four people sleep in each tent. They have electricity and for a while now, western bathrooms, although don't expect much luxury either.
You don't need any special vaccines. What you need is nothing more than a thirst for adventure, feeling that you are in the "last frontier" but it is not in space Star Trek style but on your own planet, in a distant land from which you were born but as terrestrial as that. Mongolia is vast and the people you meet, locals and foreigners with the same thirst as you, will build with you those strong memories that will make you feel alive.