Ulan Ude, Russia

  • Date
  • 24 July 1999

Ulan Ude is the first town we’ve visited in Russia that offers any glimpse of historic, attractive architecture. An Opera House, in dire need of paint and upkeep, stands near the city square. This surprisingly beautiful Communist-era structure was completed in the late 1940s by Japanese prisoners of war. A couple of cathedrals dating back to the 1700s are being restored around town – albeit very, very slowly. Mostly though, you see grey concrete slabs populating every block and people call these horrible buildings their homes.

Ulan Ude has the largest head of Lenin statue in the world located in the center of the city square. Capital of the Buryat Republic, Ulan Ude has around 400,000 people, of whom 21% are Buryats.

The city is known for its locomotive plant, food processing, helicopter assembling and glass making.

About 25 kilometers outside of town, the center of Russian Buddhism exists in a working monastery, which proudly says the Dalai Lama has visited five times in recent years. The monastery is in need of paint, nails, weeding and dusting.