After an adventurous and exciting journey through Mongolia, we are back where we started: Ulaanbaatar. We have reserved only one day for the capital, because we wanted to focus on the abundance of natural attractions of the country. After its sweeping, empty landscapes with mountains and lakes, deserts and monasteries, we have to get used to a big city again, with lots of traffic, people, even pollution. We decide to explore Chinggis Khaan square, the big open space in the new part of town. Until recently, it was named Sükhbaatar square, but in honour of the great Mongolian leader, the name was changed in 2013. It only became a square after 1921, when the monastery that was originally located here, was demolished. We almost cannot believe our eyes when we see luxurious shops and flashy new skyscrapers at the south side of the square. It is so big, that it feels almost empty even though there are quite a few people around - the square apparently is a popular destination to while away a Sunday. Kids ride around in toy cars, their parents running after them to record their moves, while others sit on benches. Even though the surrounding mountains are covered in snow, the sun is still strong enough to make it pleasant to sit outside.
We walk to the middle of the square, where we find a large plaque with the old names of the city on it - it only became Ulaanbaatar (meaning Red Hero) during the communist revolution. A little to the north, we find a huge statue: Damdin Sükhbaatar, after whom the square was named (a name still used by many here). On its pedestal, we find war scenes engraved, and on top, a belligerent leader of the 1921 revolution, inevitably mounted a horse. We walk towards the modern building a little to the north, that stretches from the west to the east side of Chinggis Khaan square: Parliament House. It is not possible to enter, but at least we can walk up some of the stairs to get a closer look at a big statue of Chinggis Khaan, sitting with his arms wide on armrests. He is flanked by two famous Mongolian soldiers; on the corners of the building, his most prominent successors Ögedei and Kublai complete the legacy of the golden years of Mongolian history.
We sit on a bench near the statue of Sükhbaatar for a while, to watch an old man with a long pipe flanked by two women, a group of girls who get make-up lessons from a teacher, people cycling on the square, kids still driving around their toy cars, before we walk east of Parliament House to walk around the square. We see the backside of Parliament House, a university building and some other buildings, modern sculptures, and a monument for the victims of political oppression, until we reach the National History museum which we want to visit. Alas - it is closed on Sunday, which really disappoints us. At the south side of Chinggis Khaan square, we see a statue of S Zorig, who played a prominent role in the protests that eventually took down Communist rule, only to be assassinated in 1998. Actually, the square itself was a gathering point of protests; we can only imagine how impressive it must be to see a huge crowd gathered on this enormous square. On a regular Sunday like today, however, it is a most peaceful place,with sauntering people enjoying the space it provides.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Chinggis-Khaan square (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Chinggis-Khaan square.
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