A new urban park and musical fountain, one grand parliament building, and weekly cultural events and festivals, Sukhbaatar Square is where life and locals come together in Mongolia’s capital city.
So, it’s your first time visiting Mongolia.
You’ve touched down at Chinggis Khaan International, and you’re ready to start exploring.
You should have a list of things to do in Ulaanbaatar, but you don’t. You’ve been so focused on planning the rest of your Mongolia trip that you’ve completely forgotten you have 24 hours in Ulaanbaatar before heading off on the most epic adventure of a lifetime.
As we like to say here at Meanwhile in Mongolia: No plans? No problem. We have you covered.
Let us introduce you to Sukhbaatar Square.
Sukhbaatar Square is the central-most point in the city and where most public events take place. Because this is the center of culture and civility in town, there’s always something going on. (As we said, no plans, no problem.)
Known locally as Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) Square – you’ve heard of that guy, right? – and a good name to know, the square is a year-round place for both locals and travelers to gather to take photos, see what’s going on in the city, explore the new urban park, and musical fountain.
Ice sculptures in the winter and cultural festivals and concerts in the summer, Sukhbaatar Square, is where it all happens. Not only is the square, but also its statues, and the Parliament House a sight to see in the city, it’s a place everyone has to experience.
Sit and watch as Mongolians dressed to impress in beautiful traditional deels celebrate graduations, weddings, birthdays, and more, and watch as they pose for photographs next to the statues with family and friends.
Sukhbaatar Square is the place to experience Mongolian culture in a way that’s both authentic and natural without feeling touristic. Locals love the square and the weekly events as much as foreigners – a rare thing to find in such a public city space.
Sukhbaatar Square is also home to the Parliament House, also known as the Government House, where the President and Prime Minister have their offices in the city. The building faces south like is the tradition with gers, and the giant window-clad building is one of the most iconic in the city.
During holidays and when high-level politicians visit the city, the square transforms into a military parade with military personnel standing post, marching or riding their trusty Mongolian steeds to celebrate the occasion. Whatever it may be.
Think of Sukhbaatar Square as the Buckingham Palace of Mongolia, well-dressed guards, and all.
A seated Genghis Khan statue overlooks the square, protecting and watching over the Mongolian people as he always has. The bronze dedication to the Great Khan is one of the biggest and most prominent statues of the great Mongol ruler in the city. (If you think you’re coming to Mongolia and won’t hear endless stories about the most revered Mongol in the world, you are sorely mistaken, my friend.)
Statues of Ögedei Khan and Kublai Khan adorn the far ends of the Parliament House’s front steps and an equestrian statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar, Mongolian’s revolutionary hero and the man whom the square has been named after sits in the central-most part of the square.
As the father of the Mongolian’s revolution, Sukhbaatar was a founding member of the Mongolian People’s Party and is a symbol of freedom to the country and the Mongolian people.
The square was the burial site of Sukhbaatar until 2005, when the Sukhbaatar Mausoleum was demolished. Sukhbaatar Square was erected in its place in 2006 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Mongolian Empire.
During the summer of 2020, the Ulaanbaatar Mayor’s Office spent 3.2 billion MNT to decorate the garden in front of Sukhbaatar Square, opening a new urban park and musical water fountain.
The 85-meter long musical fountain’s light display and water shows draw crowds of all ages daily, making it one of the best things to do and see in Ulaanbaatar.
When your hotel is near Sukhbaatar Square, you won’t help but notice the pink National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Mongolia that sites to the east. Operas, ballets, and more, the national theater employs 285 people and hosts more than 100 standing ovation-worthy performances a year.
From the square, the National Museum of Mongolia, Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery, Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum, Gobi Cashmere, Blue Sky Hotel, Shangri-La Hotel, Shangri-La Mall Complex, the National Amusement Park, Rosewood Ulaanbaatar Kitchen + Enoteca, State Department Store, and Beatles Square are all within walking distance.
A short taxi ride away, Gandan Monastery, Zaisan Hill Memorial, and the Black Market can all be easily visited.
Author: Breanna Wilson
Hi! Sain uu! I’m Breanna, an American travel writer and adventurer living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for more than 5 years. I’ve written for and been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, CNN, Forbes, and the New York Times, among others. Read more of my Mongolia travel articles here.
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