Ulan-Ude is the capital of the Buryat Republic and the biggest city on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal. This multinational city is the residence of more than 400 thousand people. Ulan-Ude, literally “Red Uda”, stands on the confluence of the Selenga and the Uda rivers. The city faces picturesque valley of Selenga and is partially surrounded by mountains.
Ulan-Ude history starts from 1666 when a small Cossack winter hut was set on the right bank of the Selenga river. Since then a very rapid development of this small settlement was ensured by an active trade conducted in this area. The world- famed Tea Road went through the city. Nowadays, Ulan-Ude is the large industrial, scientific, educational and transportation center in East Siberia. There are about 59 large and medium-sized enterprises and over 282 small companies and businesses. Thus, mechanic and energy engineering, metal working, building construction and minerals extraction, timber, food and light industry are among the main ones to recall.
Ulan-Ude hosts Buryat scientific center of Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, scientific enterprises of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Agricultural Science. Six national higher educational establishments and one private university provide wide occupational choice. The number of students is well over 30 thousand, all in all nearly 52 thousand young people study at university and college levels. There are also 80 pre-school educational institutions and 84 public schools; 27 public libraries, 10 movie theaters, 8 museums, etc.
Special attention should be given to ethnographic museum of the peoples of Transbaikalia, one of the largest museums in Russia under the open air. Connoisseurs of art and history will do justice to theatrical, ballet and concert performances, museum exhibits and architectural monuments. Ulan-Ude is the place of many annual fairs, car races, sport festivals (sport has always been an important part of the Buryat culture) and even beauty pageants.
As far as transportation is concerned, the city, as engineers would say, is a large railway hub on the Trans-Siberian Railway track. Ulan-Ude can also be regarded as the very beginning of the world famous Trans-Mongolian Railway. The track branches off the main Trans-Siberian line to proceed southwards to Ulan-Bator (Mongolia) and then further to China. No wonder the city has consulate-general of Mongolia. International airport is at the distance of 15 km from the center of Ulan-Ude. Inner city transport includes trams, buses, and route buses.
One can also depart from here to Arshan, Goryachinsk and Ust-Barguzin resorts from the local bus station. Scheduled buses also take you to Ivolginsky datsan (Buryat temple), one of the religious shrines that is worth seeing. It is located just outside of the city. Other popular place to visit around Ulan-Ude is the Old Believers’ Russian Orthodox villages that had been founded by exiles who escaped European part of Russia in the XVII century after the church reforms carried out by Patriarch Nikon.