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Ulan-Ude - capital of Buryatia

Source:  Tourist Buryatia. - 2008. - P. 115-127.

                                                        Ulan-Ude, Capital of Buryatia

The city is situated in Transbaikalia, in the valley of the Selenga River, on its right bank, between the mountain-ridges of Khamar-Daban and Ulan-Burgasy, 75 km due east of Lake Baikal.

The geographical location of Ulan-Ude City is in latitude 51 degrees 30 minutes North and in longitude 107 degrees 30 minutes East. The territory of the City of Ulan-Ude borders on Ivolga Region of the Buriat Republic in the north and in the west, on Zaigrayevo Region - in the east, on Tarbagatay Region - in the south.

Ulan-Ude was founded in the 17th century by Russian settlers. The year of 1666 is considered to be the year of the city foundation, when a Russian Cossack detachment at the mouth of River Uda, on a high rocky bank put a little wooden house, which was called the Udinsk Cossack winter quarters.

Taking into consideration the convenient geographical and strategic location of the Udinsk winter quarters, in 1860 Moscow Government decided to build up a stockaded town here. The winter quarters and a part of buildings were palisaded. In 1689 the construction was finished. Soon, in 1698, the Udinsk winter quarters was renamed a town. The official name of the town - Verkh-ne-Udinsk-was fixed in the 30s of the 18th century.

As the territory of Transbaikalia, the Russian - Chinese trade were developed; in 1726 - 1740 the Siberian land highway was built; and the danger of war from without fully ceased, transport, and administrative functions of the town were put in the forefront the trade. The first primary school was open in 1793. In 1806 it was changed into the uyezd specialized school. In 1916 there were 27 educational institutions in Verkhne-Udinsk.

In the 19th century stone buildings of classical architecture were constructed in the centre of the town.

In 1890 the Great Russian writer A.P. Chekhov passed through Verkhe-Udinsk on his way to Sakhalin.

In one of his letters to his sister he wrote: "The Selenga River is the beauty, and in Zabaikalie I could find everything I wanted. At day time you seem to ride in the Caucasus, at night - in the Don steppe, and in the morning when you are awaken, you find yourself in Poltava province - and the same all the thousand versts. Vekhne-Udinsk is a small town..."

When Buryatia formed part of Russia, and the process of economic territory developing intensified, the development of its commodity-money relations, and its implication into the market of Russia contributed to the increase of productive forces. Small works of craftspeople and home craft works started to appear.

The more rapid development of industry in the town is closely connected with the building of the Great Trans-siberian Railway. The building of Verkhneudinsk line of the railway was completed in 1899. On August 15, 1899 the inhabitants of Verkhne-Udinskwere meeting the first train. It was a great and joyful event in the life of the town.

By 1917 the population of Verkhne-Udinskincreased up to 20, 000 people. The people of Verkhne-Udinsk learnt about the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in the evening of the very day it happened, on October 25, 1917.

At the end of March - beginning of April of 1920 the Constituent Congress of Transbaikalia Labor took place in Verchne-Udinsk. On the 30th of May the Presidium of All-Union Central Executive Committee passed the Decree on creation of the Buryat-Mongol Soviet Socialist Autonomous Republic, with the capital in the town of Verkhne-Udinsk.

In 1932 broad industrial development of the town started. That time in the suburbs a large-scale industrial buildings expanded. In a short time the buildings of the biggest in the East enterprises emerged here.

                                                      EMBLEM OF THE CITY

The emblem was presented to Verkhne-Udinsk on October 26, 1790 by the decision of the Tsarist Senate "as a sign of thefact, thatthere a splendid tender is held". In the golden ground of the escutcheon in its crest one can see a babr (tiger) with a sable in its teeth - the emblem of Irkutsk (that time it was the center of the province); and in its heel - the crozier of God Mercury (the God of Trade) and the cornucopia, which underlined the trade importance of the town.

Since 1994 the city has a new emblem, without the babr this time, as Ulan-Ude is not ascribed to Irkutsk region any more. There are three stripes on the escutcheon; they are the colors of the state flag of the Buryat Republic. In the crest of the escutcheon in the sky-blue background there isthe golden "Soyombo"-the symbol of Eternity: the Sun, the Moon, and the Fireplace. It is the symbol of eternal life, and it is represented both on the emblem and on the flag of the republic. The heel remains the same: in the golden and silver ground there are the silver crozier of God Mercury and the cornucopia with a sky-blue ringing. It is the sign meaning that the originally Russian town Verkhne-Udinsk, which on July 27,1934 was renamed Ulan-Ude (which in Buryat means "The Red Uda"), is the modern capital of the Buryat Republic, and thus symbolizes the unity of epochs, cultures, and peoples.

A new version of the emblem was approved on the 20th of October, 2005. The escutcheon became one-color - a golden one; a crown was added; the "Soyom-bo" and the Buryat national ornament were entwined with it; under the escutcheon there is a blue ribbon, it symbolizes the bestowal of the city with the Order of Labour Red Banner.



Many Siberian towns and villages are situated along the main Siberian Highway (which was also called the Great Moscow, Penal Servitude Way). If the place was geographically, commercially, economically, and strategically convenient and favorable, alongside the central street - usually Traktovaya (Highway St.) or Bolshaya -there appeared new streets, and grew new towns. In our city there also is such a street, it used to be called Traktovaya St., then - Bolshaya St., and later on - Bolshaya Nikolayevskaya St. It got the latter name in 1891, when the Eminent Tsar person of Cesarevitch (the Heir) of Nikolay Aleksandrovich, the tsar Nikolay II to be, passed through the old Verkhne-Udinsk. Now it is called Lenin St. It opensfrom the Hodigitria Cathedral (Odigitrichesky sobor), crosses the central part of the city, and joins two squares: the Square of the Revolution (the former Ba-zaarnaya (a market-place) St.) and the Soviet Square (the former Nagornaya (hillside) St.).

                                                          HODIGITRIA CATHEDRAL

The foundation of it was laid in 1741. It was being built for more than 40 years, and only in 1785 the cathedral was sanctified with the icon of God's Mother Hodigitria, which took place on the first floor.

Hodigidria Cathedral is the first stone building of Verkhne-Udinsk. The chamber and spatial composition of the cathedral is a three-part system, a symmetrical one, a so-called "ship", when the main parts of the building are disposed strictly along the longitudinal from the west to the east. The volumes of the cathedral, trapeznaya (dining-rooms), and bell tower are embodied, and form a solid monolith.

In the centre there is a two-storied colomnless massive volume of quaternary with a five-faceted apse. The quaternary is arched by a cloistered vault; it is also domed, without slate roofing, but with a two-high light. The "round" attics with four-lobed hatches axial to the quaternary, figured kokoshniks (a special type of hair-dress) in the corners complete the walls; they create the effect of the corners' rounding and make one whole with the doom.

From the west the trapezhaya is joined to the bell-tower of the "octal on quaternary" type. Over two square tiers there is a double octal. Each side of the upper tier is cut through with arch openings, which attach expressiveness to it. The bell-tower is crowned with a helmet-like dome with a capstan.

In architectonics of facades and in decorative elements one can see a strong influence of Baroque. The dicor of finish casing arouses interest by the combination of traditional Old Russian forms of the preceding wooden architecture with the elements of Baroque. The rich plastic refinement of facades with well drown brick details of elbow lining, and other elements belong to the tradition of brick architecture of the 17th century; and this proves the influence of Russian North natives' architectural art.

The cathedral took a forefront position among the Orthodox churches of Verkhne-Udinsk uyezd by the number of its parish, dicor of interior execution, richness of church plate and library.

This building of unique architectonic and artistic worth by right can be considered one of the most outstanding    monuments of the second half of the 18th century Russian Baroque on the territory of Transbaikalia.

In 1929 the cathedral was closed. Different organizations imaginable took refuge there: and the Buryat History Museum, and the archival fond (reserves) depository, and even an antireligious centre. There were attempts to find the sacred articles of peculiar value, which were said to have been walled up in the basements of the cathedral in 1942. In 1999 the St. Hodigitria Cathedral was returned to the Orthodox Churcty.

                                                    GOSTINY RYADY (SHOPPING STREET)

Market of Kyakhta greatly influenced the development of Verkhne-Udynsk. In 1768 the first Verkhne-Udinsk fair was opened. Many long years it controlled prices in Transbaikalia and Irkutsk region. Annually two big fairs were held in Verkhne-Udinsk - a winter one and a summer one. Merchants from Irkutsk, Tomsk, Irbit, and Tyumen were coming to the fair. The Bolshoi (big) Gos-tiny Dvor, and the Maly (small) Gostiny Ryady (1804 -1856) became the centre of trade and in town. The Gostiny Ryady was built by the prosperous merchant, Verkhne-Udinsk freeman Kurbatov.

The Bolshoi Gostiny Ryady was projected by the architect A.I. Losev to be built in stone, in form of a big square, with a vast courtyard and with an arcade with-outside. The tsar gave his "royal benevolence" to it. The project was accepted, and the construction started on stock funds, but soon it was held up because of the stress of money to meet the "fanciful inventions" of stockholders. They started to exploit it unfinished. In 1834 they began to build the Maly Gostiny Dvor in the northern side.

In time the ensemble has lost the Maly Trade Ryad and in its place in 1960 the Central department store was built. The remainder parts of the Ryady, according to the design proposal of the architect L.K. Minert and the project, worked out by the architect A.P. Sampilov, were overbuilt, and its body was joined with the Gostiny Dvor. At that architectonic front forms of the modern side to a great extend reiterated the architecture of the old part. With this the central complex of the square became architecturally united, though it did not exactly agree with the first general architectural plan of the city.

                                                        MERCHANTS' HOUSES

The majority of buildings, located along Lenin Street, are mainly old houses of historical and architectonic value. They were built up by Verkhne-Udinsk merchants in the 19th century.

The House of the Bourgeois D.M. Pakholkov (Lenin St., 13). The house was built in 1801 - 1804. People's realization of the motives of classicism makes the whole architecture of the building interesting. It is one of the most significant first civic stone buildings in Verkhne-Udinsk, which were built at the very beginning of the 19th century. In 1809 this owner-occupied dwelling was acquired by the treasury, which intended to place offices and Exchequer therein. Later on, when a fire-brigade was disposed in the yard of the house, there appeared an additional storey on its roof. It was a two-tiered wooden fire-tower with an alarm-mast. During the fire of 1878, which destroyed the larger part of the town, this building also suffered, but was reconstructed. The watch-tower was taken away in 1930s.

The House of the Bourgeois D.M. Pakholkov (Lenin St., 15). The house was built in 1801 - 1803. In 1809 it was acquired by the state treasury to place the town police office. At the end of the 19th century the guardhouse was situated there, and from 1881 up to 1919-the public library of the town.

The Shop Passage of the Merchant Menshykov (Lenin St., 24). It is a one-storey stone building. Now the cafe "Kingsburger" and shops take seats there.

Stone Public Well (Lenin St., 22). At present a store is placed there.

The House of the Bourgeois Samsonovich (Lenin St., 23). It is a two-storey stone building. Here in the cooperative society "Economy" from 1918 up to 1920 an underground Bolshevik organization was working.

The House of the Merchant Menshikov (Lenin St., 24). Innokenty Ilich Menshikov, the owner of a farmstead, was a village constable of the Verkhne-Udinsk stanitsa. The town council decided to allow the building of stone one-storied shops. On July 8, 1886 the construction started at the corner of Bolshaya St. and Basaamaya St. (now Lenin St. and Kirov St.). At the beginning of the 20th century there was the movie theatre "Don Othello" there; it was owned by the Italian A. Bataky. In 1924 (there was no movie theatre any more) the second wooden storey was raised over the stone one.

The House of the Merchant Woman T. Borisova (Lenin St., 25). Itwas built in 1870s. In 1877the second storey was overbuilt. In 1909 the son of Borisova opened the electric cinema "Illusion" there. In 1918 the movie theatre "The golden Horn" was placed there. Now there is the movie theatre "Erdem (a Buryat name)" in it.

The House of the Merchant Goldobin (Lenin St., 26). Ivan Flegontovich Goldobin was one of the richest merchants of Verkhne-Udinsk and the Transbaikalia Territory; he was a hereditary freeman of Verkhne-Udinsk. At the end of the 19th century he owned some plants, including those situated in the Irkutsk province; he also had a monopoly on the wine trade. The distillery, named "Nickolayevsky", situated in the Verhkne-Udinsk okrug, belonged to him; many citizens of this town found their job on Goldobin's enterprises. His success in trade and business allowed Goldobin take up charity and patronage of art and literature; he made large donations to the town needs; he built up and maintained a refuge (alms-house) for the poor, aged, blind, and disabled male and female citizens; he also organized a refuge for the children of prisoners. At the instance of the municipal government the merchant I. F. Goldobin assumed in his house almost all the passing trough the town persons of high rank. In 1891 he assumed at his place the heir of throne, the emperor to be Nikolay II, passed through Verkhne-Udinsk on his way from the Far East. It was a great event for the town, so the local authorities before the eminent reception tried to equip the town as well as possible. In particular, by the Cesarevitch's arrival a triumphal arch was erected (it has not been preserved). After it was restored the Museum of Ulan-Ude City took its place there. The museum was open in August, 2001.

The House of the Merchant M. Kurbatov (Lenin St., 27). It was built at the beginning of 1820. In its time it was by the combination of colors (red brick walls and the sculptures of Atlantes, with profile stone details). In the centre it is accented by a turret in the form of a faceted dome. The building was well-preserved to our time, and now it is registered as having a special historical value. In the interior of the house a nicely made fire-place and a tracery of artistic smithery staircase barrier kept safe.

The building of Public Assembly (Lenin ST., 46). It is a two-storeyed stone building. It was built in the years of the imperialistic war of 1914 -1918 by captive Austrians. Now the Nature Museum of Buryatia is situated here,

                                                       PEDESTRIAN AREA OF LENIN ST.

On July 3, 2004 on the City Day the pedestrian area, which stretched from Sovetskaya to Kirov Street, was opened. The street was paved with colored cubes, which were connected to pavement and standard lamp illumination. Two sculptures were placed in the area. One of them - on the crossroads of Lenin and Sovetskaya streets - represents the rod of Mercury, God of Trade and the Horn of Plenty, therefore, repeating the picture depicted on the emblem of the city. The other - opposite the movie theater "Erdem" - depicts two birds. The meaning of the sculpture would be, probably, more understandable, if the sculptor, A. Mironov, marked thatjie meant Uda and Selenga or at least engraved the lines from the poem of Ts. D. Zhimbiev: "Here met Uda and

Selenga, they embraced each other, and, playing their waves, together headed for the sea".

In the summer of 2005 the fountain was unveiled in the area. Now Lenin street is called "Buryat Arbat": in the afternoon it is full of painters, in the evening - young people who are having rest.

                                                            SOVIET SQUARE

The administrative center of today's Ulan-Ude is the upland part of the former Verkhne-Udinsk. It was formed in 1950-s and corresponded to the new purpose of the city as the capital of Buryat national autonomy. The vacant ground in the upland part was turned into the second public center - Soviet square.

Verkhne-Udinsk actually did not have a square. To the west from the Opera and Ballet House wooden houses were built. At the end of Upland square one could see a three-storied stone building of merchant S. I. Rosen-stein. At the beginning of the XX century the Institute of Oriental Studies was quartered there. It was transferred from Vladivostok to Verkhne-Udinsk in case of long war between Russia and Japan in 1904. In 1905 due to the students' participation in the meetings, demonstrations, revolutionary acts the Institute was closed. In 1918, according to the order, the battalion of Verkhne-Udinsk reserve infantry regiment was quartered in the building. In 1924 Buryat Pedagogical Technical College was opened there, in 1932 - the first Teachers' Training Institute. For the last 20 years the building has been under the authority of State Buryat University.

At the beginning of XX century the fathers of the city were going to build a temple in the name of Saint John the Baptist in the center of the square, using the funds of merchants and sponsors. A five-domed temple in the form of the cross was planned counting on 700 believers, but due to different reasons the building of the temple did not even start. The second decade of XX century, being very disquieting, destroyed these plans. At the beginning of XX century Upland square was a deserted place. Then it was turned into the stadium for the trade unions. It was where they decided to build the Soviet House, and later to regard the place as the public center of the city. In 1920 the foundation of the monument to those who fell in the fight for communism (the architect is A. S. Kotov) was laid in the center of the square, and it was unveiled on November 7, 1926. In 1968 the monument was carried to the Revolution Square. Later a park was laid out through the territory of Soviet Square, which got this name after the opening of the Soviet House (the architect is A. A. Ol). Its construction was started in the spring of 1929 and finished in 1931.The building is a bright example of Soviet architecture in the beginning ofthe30-s. Nowadays Soviet House is still the main governmental building of Buryatia republic. In 60-70-s of XX century new buildings were constructed along the perimeter of Soviet square. They influenced considerably the present look of Ulan-Ude. One of the characteristic features of public buildings, which were built during 1950-s, according to the projects of architects Ludwig Minert and Andrey Vampilov, was the wish to develop Buryat national traditions in architecture. This feature was the influence of the general development of Soviet architecture of that time.

                                                        THE MONUMENT TO V. I. LENIN

The monument to Vladimir lljich Lenin, the founder of the Soviet state, was opened on Soviet Square on November 5, 1971. The authors of the project were architects G.V. Neroda and Yu. G. Neroda. The architectural part was worked out and put into practice by the architects A. N. Dushkin and P. G.Zilberman. The project was exhibited in Paris and Montreal. The authors of the project were given a governmental award at the exhibition of Lenin's image through paintings, graphics and sculpture in Moscow. The monument is located in the eastern part of Soviet square in front of the House of the Government of Buryatia Republic. A sculpture of V. I. Lenin's head made of bronze is erected on the polished granite base. The sculpture rests upon its front part - as if in one point, as it is limited from the bottom by the slant shear. The height of the sculpture is 7,7 meters, the weight is 42 tons, the height of the base is 6.3 meters. The sculpture was molded at stonecutting factory of Mytishchi.

                                                     OPERA AND BALLET HOUSE

The construction of the Opera and Ballet House was the first noticeable addition to the pre-war architectural ensemble. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, a "visiting card" of the Republic of Buryatia.

The history of the construction of the building begins from the year of 1934, when the architect A. N. Fyodorov worked out the project of the Palace of Socialist Culture for the capital of Buryat Mongolian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. "A big scientific and cultural complex" was supposed to be built: a concert hall, a theater, a library, a museum and a research center were planned to be built there.

The construction started in 1938 but very soon was stopped. It was planned to continue it in 1940-1941, but the Great Patriotic War prevented it. By the end of 1945 the project of the theatre was re-made: the planned capacity was enlarged (800 people), as well as the construction size of the theater. The work was continued in 1945 and lasted for 6 years.

The first holiday concert and a festive party took place in the theater on May 1,1952, and from November 7 performances started. Officially the State Commission approved the theater only on March 22, 1954.

Volumetric and spatial composition of the theater was influenced to a very big extent by the location of the building just on the edge of high over-flood lands and by its importance for the city as a part of the administrative center of Buryatia republic. Therefore, while the building was being planned, they tried to take into consideration its perception from all the sides.

The fasade of the building looking onto Lenin Street consists of various architectural volumes: cam groove volume of circular lobbies, the height with the balcony, flat three-storied block of artistic, with frequent rhythm, windows; monumental fence around a yard. Closing the yard, there is a five-bay arcade on a high terrace supported by two massive pylons decorated with stucco molding representing the emblems of art. Before the arcade there are terraces with balustrades, stairs and passages, which fence the area. Among the decorations of the facades the ornamented tracery composition of the gate, made of molded parts, is significant. The interior of the auditorium, its form and proportions, the distribution of places, architectural means of decoration are special harmonic. Picturesque composition on the plafond called "the triumph of socialist regime" is performed in tempera technique. The picture represents a national holiday in Ulan-Ude. There is a big molded ornamented rose window with a multi-tiered chandelier hanging on it. Above the portal of the stage one can see a sculpture depicting the coat of arms surrounded with banners and musical instruments. Upon the whole the architecture of the Opera and Ballet House is a typical sample of Soviet architecture of the first pre-war decade.



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