Ulan-Ude city, Russia

The capital city of Buryat republic.

Ulan-Ude - Overview

Ulan-Ude is a city in Russia, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia, a large cultural, scientific, industrial center of Eastern Siberia located about 140 km east of Lake Baikal and 5,600 km from Moscow. It is the third most populous city in the Far Eastern Federal District, after Vladivostok and Khabarovsk.

The population of Ulan-Ude is about 436,400 (2022), the area - 365 sq. km.

The phone code - +7 3012, the postal codes - 670000-670055.

Ulan-Ude city flag

Ulan-Ude city flag

Ulan-Ude city coat of arms

Ulan-Ude city coat of arms

Ulan-Ude city anthem

Ulan-Ude city map, Russia

Ulan-Ude city map of Russia

History Ulan-Ude

Foundation of Ulan-Ude

In the spring of 1666, on the high right bank, at the confluence of the Uda and Selenga rivers, a detachment of Cossacks under the command of Gavrila Lovtsov and Osip Vasiliev built “Udinsky Cossack winter hut” to collect yasak (tribute) from the local Tungus population.

In the summer of 1675, through the mouth of the Uda, without mentioning the existence of the winter hut, the Tsar’s envoy Nikolai Spafari traveled to China. He proposed to build an ostrog (a small fortress) at the mouth of the Uda. Udinsky fortress was constructed in 1677-1680.

In 1680, Russian trade caravans to China began to pass through it. The fortress protected the valley of the Uda River from the attacks of nomads from the south and west. It became the main place for storing goods and forming caravans going to Nerchinsk. From 1686 to 1689, the fortress was repeatedly besieged by the Buryats and Mongols.

In 1689, on the site of the original small fortress, a new, significantly expanded fortification was built - the town of Udinsk. In 1692, Eberhard Isbrand Ides, a Danish merchant, traveler and diplomat, who stayed in Udinsk, described a strong earthquake - the earliest documented earthquake in Transbaikalia.

More Historical Facts…

Ulan-Ude in the 18th - early 20th century

In the “Bulletin of Siberian towns” of 1701, Udinsk was listed among the fortresses of Irkutsk county. In 1735, Udinsk was renamed to Verkhneudinsk (Upper Udinsk), to avoid confusion with another town of the same name in Irkutsk county - Udinsk, later renamed Nizhneudinsk (Lower Udinsk). In 1770, the population of Verkhneudinsk was about 4,700 people.

With the development of the territory of Transbaikalia and revitalization of peaceful trade, exchange and everyday relations between the Buryats and the Russians, the construction of the Siberian route, the development of Russian-Chinese trade, and the disappearance of the military danger, Verkhneudinsk lost military significance. In 1780, it became a district town of Irkutsk Governorate. In 1790, the town was given a coat of arms, emphasizing its trade importance.

In the late 18th-19th centuries, Verkhneudinsk began to be built up, private stone houses belonging to wealthy merchants appeared on its streets. In 1851, the town had 499 houses, 75 shops, and 3,746 residents. In 1867, the first Buryat women’s school was opened. In 1869, a 40-bed civil hospital was established. In 1878, a fire destroyed 75% of the town’s buildings. In 1882, the town public bank was opened.

In 1915, the population of the town was about 17,200 people. During the First World War, prisoner of war camps were set up in Verkhneudinsk and Nizhnyaya Berezovka (Vagzhanov microdistrict of today’s Ulan-Ude). In the winter of 1915-1916, 27,500 prisoners of war were kept in the Nizhnyaya Berezovka camp, and 8,500 in Verkhneudinsk. The camp in Nizhnyaya Berezovka was one of the largest in the Russian Empire.

On September 29, 1918, during the Russian Civil War, the first echelons of Japanese troops arrived in Verkhneudinsk. In April 1919, the 27th US Infantry Regiment entered the town under the command of Colonel Morrow (American Expeditionary Force “Siberia”). On March 2, 1920, Verkhneudinsk was taken by the troops of the Red Army.

Ulan-Ude in the Soviet Union and beyond

On May 30, 1923, the Buryat-Mongolian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created with its capital in the town of Verkhneudinsk. In 1928, the first stationary theater in the city began its professional activity (the Russian State Drama Theater named after Nikolai Bestuzhev). Verkhneudinsk was gradually turning into the center of the national Buryat culture. In 1929, a radio station and a shipyard began to operate, and the Buryat-Mongolian Institute of Culture was established.

In 1930, the Union of Writers of Buryatia was formed, and in 1933 - the Union of Artists of Buryatia. In 1930, the Polytechnic (Ulan-Ude Medical College) began to work. In 1932, the State Buryat Drama Theater was established. On July 27, 1934, Verkhneudinsk was renamed Ulan-Ude (meaning “Red Uda” in Buryat language). On March 19, 1938, the Buryat-Mongolian State Philharmonic Society was established. From 1931 to 1939, the population of Ulan-Ude almost tripled - from 44,000 to 125,000 people.

During World War II, six enterprises in Ulan-Ude (steam locomotive repair, glass, aircraft factories, meat processing plant, etc.) were switched to military production. There were 9 evacuation hospitals in Ulan-Ude. The Kharkov Russian Drama Theater was evacuated to this city.

In 1952, the construction of the building of the Buryat Opera and Ballet Theater was completed. In 1957, a new reinforced concrete bridge over the Uda River was put into operation. In 1958, a new type of transport appeared in Ulan-Ude - the tram. On July 7, 1958, the Buryat-Mongolian ASSR was renamed into the Buryat ASSR. In 1963, its population reached 200 thousand people.

In 1971, the reconstruction of the central square of the city - Sovetov Square was completed. An unusual monument to V.I.Lenin (the largest sculpture of Lenin’s head in the world) was erected here. In 1973, the Ethnographic Museum of the Peoples of Transbaikalia was opened. In 1989, the population of Ulan-Ude was 352,530 people.

In 1990, Ulan-Ude was given the status of “Historical City of Russia” with 52 historical monuments, 177 monuments of architecture and urban planning, 3 monuments of monumental art, 1 monument of archeology, of which 11 are monuments of federal importance. However, it was not included in the new, significantly abbreviated edition of the list of historical settlements of Russia compiled in 2010.

In 1991, the XIV Dalai Lama visited Ulan-Ude. In 1992, Ulan-Ude became the capital of the Republic of Buryatia. In 1995, the Buryat State University was established. In September 2016, the city celebrated its 350th anniversary.

Ulan-Ude views

General view of Ulan-Ude

General view of Ulan-Ude

Author: Vertinskiy

Triumphal Arch in Ulan-Ude

Triumphal Arch in Ulan-Ude

Author: Nalivayev

Buddhist motives in Ulan-Ude

Buddhist motives in Ulan-Ude

Author: Alexandra Dugarova

Ulan-Ude - Features

The name of Ulan-Ude literally means “Red Uda”: “Ulaan” in Buryat means “red”, “Yde” is the Buryat name of the Uda River. The coat of arms of Ulan-Ude is the historical coat of arms of the town of Verkhneudinsk (renamed Ulan-Ude in 1934), approved in 1790 with the following description: “In the golden field, Mercury’s rod and cornucopia as a sign that great bargaining is taking place in this town.”

The climate of the city is sharply continental, arid, which is explained by its remoteness from large bodies of water (in particular, Lake Baikal is blocked by the mountain ranges of Khamar-Daban and Ulan-Burgasy), the location of the city in an intermountain basin in the center of the vast Eurasian continent.

The climatic winter in Ulan-Ude lasts more than five months, summer - just over two months. 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 with the sun is very high here (more than 2,400 hours), which is similar to such southern cities of Russia as Anapa or Nakhodka.

The federal highway R258 “Baikal” (Irkutsk - Ulan-Ude - Chita) passes through the city, as well as one of the main lines of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The international airport “Baikal” located about 15 km west of Ulan-Ude offers regular flights to such cities as Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk, Novosibirsk, Moscow, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yakutsk, and some others. Public transport includes trams, buses, minibuses.

The main branches of the local industry are mechanical engineering and metalworking, electric power engineering, forestry, woodworking and pulp and paper industries, nonferrous metallurgy, fuel and food industries. The helicopter building plant in Ulan-Ude is one of the largest in Russia.

According to the 2010 all-Russian census, the national composition of the population of Ulan-Ude was as follows: Russians (62%), Buryats (32%), others (6%). In Ulan-Ude there are a lot of cafes and restaurants offering dishes of national Buryat cuisine, as well as Russian, European, Mongolian, Korean, and Japanese cuisines. The City Day of Ulan-Ude is celebrated on the first Saturday of September.

Ulan-Ude has a unique historical and cultural heritage. There are more than 200 objects of cultural heritage in the city: monuments of architecture and urban planning, monuments of art. A significant part of the sights are well-preserved architectural monuments of the 19th century, such as houses of merchants, trading houses, churches, etc. They are mainly concentrated in the historical center of the city.

Buddhism and nature are the main tourist attractions associated with Ulan-Ude. Datsans (Buddhist university monasteries) set themselves the task of attracting not only deeply religious followers, but also those who are just interested in religion. Tourist excursions to Lake Baikal are sent from Ulan-Ude on a regular basis.

Main Attractions of Ulan-Ude

Datsan “Rinpoche Bagsha”. Buddhism, the religion of the indigenous population of Buryatia, is widespread in this region. Therefore, Ulan-Ude has several important Buddhist religious buildings that are interesting for tourists. The datsan “Rinpoche Bagsha”, built with the blessing of the Dalai Lama in 2000, is one of them. The Buddhist center is located in the district Lysaya Gora on the outskirts of the city (Streletskaya Street, 1).

It is an important cultural center for Buddhists of Russia. However, it is interesting not only as a religious building. For example, a lot of tourists come to see the gilded statue of Buddha, which is the largest in Russia (6 meters). Another attraction is the large bell of the Four Seals, the sounds of which can be heard even in remote areas of Ulan-Ude.

Monument to Lenin in Ulan-Ude. The central square with the monument to Lenin installed on it is a typical picture for a lot of Russian cities. But the monument to the leader of the world proletariat erected in Ulan-Ude is unique. On Sovetov Square you can see the giant head of Vladimir Lenin - the largest in the world.

Installed for the centenary of Lenin in 1971, this monument almost immediately became the main symbol of Ulan-Ude. They say that the idea for such a monument was the image of Lenin’s profile on Soviet anniversary rubles. The bronze head of Lenin, a little less than 8 m high, is erected on a massive 6-meter granite pedestal.

Triumphal Arch “Tsar’s Gate”. The original wooden arch was erected in honor of Crown Prince Nikolai’s (future emperor Nicholas II) visit to this city in 1891. In 1936, it was destroyed. In 2006, the arch was restored according to the old project, but increased in size and made of stone. Today, it is 9 meters high and 14 meters wide. Lenina Street, near Buryat State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater.

Holy Odigitrievsky (Hodegetria) Cathedral (1741-1785) - the main Orthodox church of the city located in its center, on the bank of the Uda River. This architectural monument in the Siberian Baroque style is one of the oldest stone buildings in Ulan-Ude. The name of the cathedral comes from the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God Hodegetria. Lenina Street, 2.

National Museum of the History of Buryatia named after M.N. Khangalov - one of the oldest museums in Siberia. A lot of rare exhibits are on display here. There is a large collection dedicated to Buddhism. In the 1930s, when the Buryat datsans were closed, some of their relics ended up in this museum. Among the most valuable exhibits is the unique Atlas of Tibetan Medicine, as well as numerous other rare books, icons, and coins. The collections include not only Buryat art objects, but also exhibits from other countries - Japan, Nepal, China, Mongolia. Profsoyuznaya Street, 29.

Art Museum named after Ts.S. Sampilov - the largest museum of Buryat art in Russia and one of the largest art museums in Siberia. Today, the exposition includes not only paintings and graphics, but also national arts and crafts, jewelry, etc. Kuybysheva Street, 29.

Museum of the History of Ulan-Ude. The expositions of this museum can be found in the historical center of Ulan-Ude, in the restored house of the merchant Goldobin. Museum visitors will learn about the life of locals in the 18th-19th centuries and other eras. Lenina Street, 26.

Ethnographic Museum of the Peoples of Transbaikalia - one of the largest open-air museums in Russia with an area of 37 hectares. More than 40 architectural monuments and over 11 thousand exhibits are collected here. This museum is worth visiting for those who are interested in the history and traditions of Transbaikalia. The territory is divided into seven zones, each of which corresponds to different cultures. For example, there are Evenk, Buryat, and Old Believers expositions, as well as a complex of exhibits dedicated to urban life in the 19th-20th centuries. Microdistrict Verkhnyaya Berezovka.

Ivolginsky Datsan “Khambyn Khuree” - a historical and architectural monument located in the village of Verkhnyaya Ivolga, about 36 km west of Ulan-Ude. This datsan attracts Buddhist pilgrims who can attend khurals and other religious ceremonies. For other tourists, the complex can also be interesting: you can see picturesque Buddhist temples, visit a museum. Next to the datsan there is a stadium where competitions in traditional wrestling, archery, and other sports are held.

Ethnic Center “Steppe nomad”. In Naryn-Acagat, about 50 km east of Ulan-Ude, you can immerse yourself in the traditions of the Buryats: guests can stay in felt or wooden yurts, taste national cuisine, learn local crafts, and ride horses. There are educational excursions and master classes.

Lake Baikal - the deepest lake on Earth. Although it is located almost 140 km from Ulan-Ude, a lot of tourists decide to spend some time on the road to see this natural miracle. There are numerous hiking trails in the vicinity of the lake, and you can also explore it by boat. In summer you can sunbathe on clean beaches, in winter you can ski, skate, or drive snowmobiles.

Ulan-Ude city of Russia photos

Pictures of Ulan-Ude

Soviet architecture in Ulan-Ude

Soviet architecture in Ulan-Ude

Author: Lukashenok Victor

Ulan-Ude Railway Station

Ulan-Ude Railway Station

Author: Serj Kras

Monument to Geser, Buryat epic hero, in Ulan-Ude

Monument to Geser, Buryat epic hero, in Ulan-Ude

Author: Michal Synowiec

Ulan-Ude places of interest

Giant Lenin in Ulan-Ude

Giant Lenin in Ulan-Ude

Author: Finnbar

Buddhist temple in Ulan-Ude

Buddhist temple in Ulan-Ude

Author: Lyudmila Polshikova

Church of St. Nicholas in the Ethnographic Museum of Ulan-Ude

Church of St. Nicholas in the Ethnographic Museum of Ulan-Ude

Author: Finnbar

The questions of our visitors

Gelb asks: Was Ulan-Ude involved in World War 2?
Expert's answer:

After Germany attacked the USSR on June 22, 1941, six enterprises of Ulan-Ude (locomotive repair, glass, aviation factories, meat processing plant, etc.) were switched to military production. Ulan-Ude locomotive repair plant was engaged in repairing locomotives, freight and passenger cars, built new locomotives, produced ammunition. Ulan-Ude meat processing plant also produced up to 50 different medical products.

9 evacuation hospitals were located in Ulan-Ude. Kharkiv Russian Drama Theater was evacuated to this city. At the end of 1941, the 97th Rifle Division under the command of A. A. Schennikov was formed in Ulan-Ude. In 1942, it was sent to the Western Front, where it became part of the 16th Army.

Floshka asks: I am going to Buryatia, Ulan-Ude for 3.5 weeks. However, I do not need to pay for lodging, I am staying at my friends place. How much money do I need then for expenses?
Expert's answer:
In 2016, the average salary in Ulan-Ude was about 400-500 USD per month. So this sum will already be enough to live in this city for almost one month as in your case.

The comments of our visitors

Nicolae Robescu
Visiting Ulan-Ude
I visited Ulan-Ude last year and it would be fine without so many aggressive alcoholics hanging around. I would really like to spend more time there but i worry i just don't belong there. Hope that things can improve there so that i can visit again soon and stay longer. Thanks!

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