Ulan-Ude is a city in Russia, the capital of Buryatia Republic located in Eastern Siberia. The city stands on the Uda River, about 100 km from Lake Baikal and 5,615 km east of Moscow.
The population of Ulan-Ude is about 430,500 (2015), the area - 348 sq. km.
The phone code - +7 3012, the postal codes - 670000-670055.
The first people who settled in the area of present Ulan-Ude were tribes of Evenks and Buryat Mongols. In 1666, a small fort was founded by Russian Cossacks colonizing Siberia on the site of the present city. The fort was named Udinskoe meaning “standing on the Uda River”. It was built to collect tribute from the local population.
The settlement grew rapidly because of its favorable geographical position. Udinskoe became an important trade center linking Russia, China and Mongolia. From 1680, Russian trade caravans began to pass through this settlement to China. From 1686 to 1689, the fortress was repeatedly subjected to attacks by the Mongols and Buryats. In 1690, it became an administrative center of the Transbaikal region.
In 1741, construction of Odigitrievsky Cathedral began (the first stone building). In 1775, Udinskoe turned into a town with a new name - Udinsk. In 1783, the town was renamed again and became Verkhneudinsk (meaning Upper Udinsk). In 1786, the town began to hold Verkhneudinsk fairs (twice a year). It was gradually becoming a large shipping, storage and trade center.
More Historical Facts…
In 1822, the first bridge over the Uda River was built at the expense of the merchant M.K.Kurbatov. In 1851, the population was 3,746 people. In 1877-1885, a new stone prison to 440 inmates was built. It became the best prison in Siberia.
In 1878, a great fire destroyed three quarters of the buildings in Verkhneudinsk. In 1900, a new period of growth began, when the Trans-Siberian Railway reached the town. During World War I, camps for prisoners of war were established in Verkhneudinsk and Nizhnaya Berezovka. In winter 1915-1916, there were 27,500 prisoners in Berezovka and 8,500 in Verkhneudinsk. The camp in Berezovka was one of the largest in the Russian Empire.
In 1923, the Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic with the capital in Verkhneudinsk was created. In the 1930s, large-scale industrial construction began in the city. In 1934, Verkhneudinsk received its current name Ulan-Ude meaning “red Uda” (“red gate” in the language of the Buryats).
During the Second World War, there were several military hospitals in the city. Kharkov Russian Drama Theater was evacuated to Ulan-Ude. In 1958, the Buryat-Mongol ASSR was renamed into the Buryat Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
In 1991, Ulan-Ude was visited by the Dalai Lama XIV. In 1992, Ulan-Ude became the capital of the Republic of Buryatia. Today, it is an important center of Siberian culture and history, the center of Buddhism in Russia.
Triumphal Arch in Ulan-Ude
The coat of arms of Ulan-Ude has a cornucopia and caduceus (Mercury Wand) which symbolize the importance of trade in the history of the city.
National composition of population of the city according to the National Population Census 2010: Russians (62%), Buryats (32%), other nationalities (6%).
The climate is sharply continental, arid. The average temperature in January is minus 23.3 degrees Celsius, in July - plus 19.8 degrees Celsius. The city is characterized by a high level of solar radiation, the annual number of hours of sunshine is very high (over 2,400 hours).
City Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in September. The following traditional holidays are also celebrated:
- Sagaalgan - White Moon Festival (New Year on east calendar), the end of January - beginning of February,
- Surkharban - Buryat sports folk festival, the first Sunday of July at the Hippodrome in Ulan-Ude,
- Night of Ekhor - Buryat folk dance, July.
Ulan-Ude is an important railway hub due to its location on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Also the city is the starting station of the Trans-Mongolian Railway passing through Mongolia to Beijing, the capital of China. The federal highway R258 “Baikal” (M55) running through the city connects Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude and Chita. This is the only way to travel in the direction of Vladivostok. Public transport includes trams, buses, taxis.
Baikal International Airport, also known as Mukhino airport, is located 15 km west of the center of Ulan-Ude. The airport provides regular flights to Blagoveshchensk, Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Magadan, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, Yakutsk, Beijing (China), Seoul (South Korea).
Soviet architecture in Ulan-Ude
Monument to Geser, Buryat epic hero, in Ulan-Ude
Ulan-Ude has a unique historical and cultural heritage. Within the city there are more than 200 objects of cultural heritage: monuments of architecture and urban planning, artistic monuments. A significant part of sights refers to the well-preserved architectural monuments of the 19th century. They are mostly concentrated in the historic downtown.
One of the most interesting monuments of Ulan-Ude stands on the main square of the city (Sovetov Square). It is a giant head of Vladimir Lenin. This unique monument, weighing 42 tons and having a height of 14 meters, was constructed in honor of the centenary of Lenin’s birth in 1970.
Another sight of the city is Odigitrievsky Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church, the first stone building in the city (1741-1785). It is an architectural monument of the Siberian baroque. The cathedral is located in the heart of Ulan-Ude, on the banks of the Uda River where it flows into the Selenga River (Lenina Street, 2).
The sculptural composition “Hospitable Buryatia”, installed at the eastern end of the Selenga bridge, meets all who enter into the central part of the city from the west. The monument is depicted as a woman holding “hadak” (a ritual long scarf, one of Buddhist symbols), which is a symbol of hospitality.
Datsan (the Buddhist temple) “Rinpoche Bagsha”, located on Lysaya Mountain, offers a great view of the city. Here you can find the biggest in Russia statue of Gautama Buddha (6 meters).
Ivolginsky datsan “Hambyn Hure”, a large Buddhist monastery complex and a monument of history and architecture, is located in the village of Verkhnaya Ivolga, 30 km from Ulan-Ude.
Ulan-Ude Ethnographic Museum is one of Russia’s largest open-air museums. It has historical findings from the era of Khunnu until the mid 20th century, including a unique collection of wooden architecture of Siberian people (more than 40 architectural monuments). The museum is located in the village of Verkhnaya Berezovka (about 8 km from Ulan-Ude).
Nature Museum of Buryatia. The exhibition includes unique paleontological, zoological, geological, and botanical collections (Lenina Street, 46).
History Museum of Buryatia has rich archaeological collections of the Bronze, Iron, Medieval Ages; an ethnographic collection and a collection of decorative and applied arts. A special place is occupied by a collection of Buddhist religious objects.
The pride of the museum is a fund of rare books, which includes Buddhist literature in Tibetan and old written Mongolian languages. The most valuable exhibit is the “Atlas of Tibetan Medicine” - an outstanding monument of art and source for the study of medieval culture of the Buddhist world (Profsoyuznaya Street, 29).
More Museums and Theaters…
- Museum of History of Ulan-Ude (Lenina Street, 26),
- National Museum of the Republic of Buryatia (Kuibysheva Street, 29),
- Art Museum named after Sampilov (Kuibysheva Street, 29),
- Geological Museum (Lenina Street, 59).
- Buryat State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater (Lenina Street, 51),
- Buryat State Academic Drama Theater named after Khots Namsaraev (Kuibysheva Street, 38),
- State Russian Drama Theater named after N.A. Bestuzhev (Tereshkovoy Street, 9a),
- Buryat State National Puppet Theater “Ulger” (Lenina Street, 46),
- Youth Art Theater (Dimitrova Street, 2),
- Buryat State National Song and Dance Theater “Baikal” (Erbanova Street, 6),
- Buryat State Philharmonic (Erbanova Street, 6).