Sükhbaatar Square

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Coordinates: 47°55′08″N 106°55′03″E / 47.91889°N 106.91750°E / 47.91889; 106.91750

Panorama of Sükhbaatar Square looking east

Sükhbaatar Square (Mongolian: Сүхбаатарын талбай, pronounced Sükhbaatariin Talbai) is the central square of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It is named after and features an equestrian statue of Damdin Sükhbaatar, one of the leaders of Mongolia's 1921 revolution. The statue is located directly in front of the Saaral Ordon (Government Palace).

Buildings[edit]

Government Palace (built in 1951 on the spot of the Green Domed Theater) is located on the north side of the square and is fronted by a large colonnade monument to Genghis Khan, Ögedei Khan, and Kublai Khan, completed in 2006 in time for the 800th anniversary of Genghis Khan's coronation. Prior to its demolition in 2005, Sükhbaatar's Mausoleum, the former burial place of Damdin Sükhbaatar and Khorloogiin Choibalsan occupied the area just in front of the Government palace. On the square's western side sits the headquarters of the Ulaanbaatar Bank, Ulaanbaatar City Administration building, the headquarters of Golomt Bank, the Mongolian Stock Exchange building (formerly the Eldev-Ochir Cinema: 1946–1948), the Mongolian Telecommunications Building, and the Central Post Office. The eastern side of the square is flanked by the Central Cultural Palace Building and State Ballet and Opera House, built between 1946 and 1949, and the Central Towers, a glass and metal skyscraper completed in 2008. To the south sits the old Lenin Club building (built in 1929 located right next to the modern sail shaped skyscraper, Blue Sky Tower.

Besides the Sükhbaatar monument in the center of the square, several other statues dot the square including one of former president Jamsrangiin Sambuu on the north-western corner, and another for slain revolutionary leader Sanjaasürengiin Zorig across the intersection on the south-western corner (in front of the Central Post Office).

History[edit]

19th-century painting of the Zuun Khuree Monastery where Sükhbaatar Square would later be built

The grounds of the present day square were largely occupied by the monastery of Ikh Khüree before the Outer Mongolian Revolution of 1921, but the complex was destroyed shortly after the establishment of the revolutionary government. After that, a large empty area surrounded on all sides by temples, residences of the nobility and clergy as well as the Baruun Damnuurchin markets. It had become a place of disposing refuse where large piles of garbage could be seen. The Bogd Khan would pass on its edge on his royal procession to the Yellow Palace in the central temple-palace complex of the city. This central temple-palace complex (now completely destroyed), the largest and oldest section of Ulaanbaatar, was called the Zuun Khuree or Eastern Monastery and faced Sükhbaatar Square from the north. It had a large square of its own (the former main square of the city) where Mongolian wrestling and Tsam dances took place in the presence of nobles and clergy.

The newspaper "Izvestiya Ulanbator khoto" reported on July 15, 1925 that "in line with Mongolian tradition the fourth anniversary of the People's Revolution was celebrated with rallies at the square dedicated to D.Sükhbaatar". The statue of Sukh Janjin (meaning General Sükhbaatar) lies on the spot where his horse urinated during a rally on July 8, 1921. Sukh Janjin's horse urinating was seen as a good omen and a marker was buried on the spot by a man called "Bonehead" Gavaa. Marshal Khorloogiin Choibalsan (who participated as a simple worker during the cementing process of 1946 along with Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal) had the marker dug out and chose the spot as the place of Sukhbaatar's statue in 1946, after the sculptor Sonomyn Choimbol (1907-1970) asked where his statue should be placed.

The Green Domed Theater was built on the site of the current Government Palace in 1926 and burned down unexpectedly in 1949. A well-known story related by witnesses of the event tells of a passer-by who exclaimed "our theater sure burns nicely" as the cultural monument blazed brightly during the night. He was quickly apprehended and severely punished by the authorities. The City Administration building was formerly a hotel and was built in 1936.

Events[edit]

During Mongolia's socialist period, Sükhbaatar Square was the scene of annual civil, youth, and military parades until 1989, with party and government leaders ascending to the top of Sükhbaatar's Mausoleum to view parades on May 1, July 11, and November 7 each year. Large parades were also staged for important visitors, such as when Brezhnev made an official visit to Mongolia in 1966. The square was the focal point of the Democratic Revolution of 1990 where massive demonstrations and hunger strikes took place. Sükhbaatar Square was also the scene of the violent riots on July 1, 2008 when 5 people were shot dead and many more injured while protesting parliamentary election results. Today, the square is still the scene of major state ceremonies, cultural events, and exhibitions. Heads of state of foreign countries generally pay respects in front of the statue of Sükhbaatar.

External links[edit]

Media related to Sükhbaatar Square at Wikimedia Commons