Ulaanbaatar is more than just a city, it is about the history of urbanization of the Mongols. The history of Ulaanbaatar begins at Shireet Tsagaan Lake, located 344 kilometers away from the city. At this very place, a place of divine beauty, the future capital city of Mongolia was founded in 1639.
G. Zanabazar, a five-year-old boy at the time and a descendant of Chinggis Khaan’s Golden Lineage, had just been enthroned as the first Jebtsundamba Khutugtu, the spiritual head of Mongolian Buddhism. Ulaanbaatar was home to his palace. The palace-settlement included small temples, stupas, and gers. The city would move several times until settling down at its current location. The name changed as well. First, it was Urguu, then Nomyn Khuree, Ikh Khuree, Niislel Khuree and finally in 1924, it came to be called Ulaanbaatar.
During the time of Ikh Khuree, it started to grow and develop as a city. Mongolian artisans began mixing national architectural traditions, building methods, and the style of the Mongol ger with the architectural traditions of China, to build mixed style temples and monasteries. This was a time when wondrous architectural complexes such as Dambadarjeeling Monastery, Gandantegchinlen Monastery, and East Khuree Dashchoilin Monastery were built.
By the end of the 19th century, lkh Khuree had been developed into not only a religious center, but a center of politics, governance, and culture. The city was a junction point for commerce and communications.
On December 29, 1911, Mongolia declared its independence and enthroned Jebtsundamba Khutugtu VIII as King, and lkh Khuree was renamed Niislel Khuree.
The triumph of the People's Revolution in 1921 led Ulaanbaatar toward the rise of modern architecture and an urban development era, launching rapid construction work. Buildings around Sukhbaatar Square were built within the framework of city development plans of 1940-1949, with designs by Russian architects. By 1960, Ulaanbaatar gained its own architectural characteristics thanks to the Soviet trained Mongolian professionals.
This process would actively continue until the late 1980s, when the building of the Government House, theatres, schools, kindergartens and housing were undertaken. It’s fair to note that during the 1980s specifically, the city’s architects combined modern design with traditions, producing buildings with beautiful architecture.
Ulaanbaatar, where 1.5 million people out of Mongolia's just over 3 million population, is the country's economic, cultural and political center and has a number of tourist attractions and hosts the most varied types of entertainment. The city is divided into 9 districts and 122 khoroos. Ulaanbaatar is located on the bank of the Tuul River and surrounded by four sacred mountains with dense pine forests on the northern slopes and grassy steppes on the south. Mostly described, as sunny, peaceful and open, Ulaanbaatar is a city of contrast where modern life comfortably blends with Mongolian traditional lifestyle.
Ulaanbaatar is a unique city that represents two different aspects of living. One aspect, high rise buildings characterize the city center shows the modern lifestyle, however, the other, visitors arriving either from the Chinggis Khaan airport or by train to the main railway would not fail to notice thousands of traditional Mongolian "Gers" in the vicinity, an area referred to by locals as "ger district".