Through our rental apartment, Lotus, we hired a driver to go to this remarkable, astonishing site, about 60 miles to the E of Ulaan Bataar. The grand statue of Genghis Khan is the country’s national monument, erected in 2006; it is comparable to our country’s Statue of Liberty. It is huge, visible from afar, and it’s possible to climb up to the top and look out on the surrounding countryside, which we did.
In the basement there are two different museums – the Bronze Age Museum and the Great Mongol Empire Museum. Although not large, they are surely some of the most incredible collections of artifacts anywhere in the world. I was stupefied at the beauty of the creations made during the Bronze Age in this region – more than 2800 years ago! The bronze artisans made objects of such astonishing beauty, they would cause a stir even today.
The Great Mongol Empire Museum had a number of artifacts from the empire, which lasted about 150 years, and its offshoots in different parts of Asia, which continued another century or so and then dissolved in various ways. Trade routes were the most well-developed and protected aspect of the empire – and that created international exchange in great amounts.
After this, we visited two small but well-stocked souvenir shops on the first floor.
Oh, they also have “the world’s largest boot” on the first floor and were eager to tell us all about it – it’s in the Guiness Book of World Records, they say. Oh well.
If you are at all interested in the Bronze Age, get your hide to this museum and plan to spend a long day there. It’s a reminder that, although humans have been violent for millennia, they have also shown remarkable aesthetic sensitivity and love of beauty.