• Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

  • Bahrain!

    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

  • Laos!

    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

  • Tajikistan!

    Tajikistan: A yurt in the mountains. Go Now!

    The high mountains have mysteries around every turn, including yurts (pictured), a home for the nomadic people. Go Now!

Architecture of Mongolia

For most of Mongolia's early history, architecture was limited to domestic dwellings (homes) and for most people this consisted of a round portable house called a ger that catered to the nomadic lifestyle (note: this home is often translated into English as a yurt, however that word should only be used to classify the nomadic homes of the people of Central Asia as the two have significant differences in structure and the word ger is a source of national pride in Mongolia). Gers still exist today in Mongolia, although the people are definitely moving in the direction of more permanent settlements.

The next significant architectural style that came into being was protective walls and forts in the 500s-800s as the people began to war against each other. In the city of Kara Balgasun there are remains of the walls of one of these ancient fortresses.

The Mongol Empire, under the leadership of Genghis Khan rose to power and fame in the 1200s and soon had stationed their capital in the city of Karakorum, which was later lost to time. It has since been uncovered and displays new architectural features, most notably in the form of stationary palaces.

The next significant change came in the 1500s and 1600s when Buddhism made a strong impact on the culture. At this time a number of monasteries were built; some were built in the style of Tibet (in China), however a more local style was developed from the formation of gers, which involved buildings forming a circle, with a single building in the middle, generally in ger camps this was the chief and in monasteries it was the most holy place of the monastery. The best examples of these monasteries can be found in Hohhot, in addition to Khogno Tarni, Zaya-iin Khuree, Baruun Khuree, and Zaya-iin Khiid.

Through the 1700s into the 1900s the style continued to be altered as more stationary buildings were erected, again primarily monasteries, which attempted to mix Chinese styles with images of Mongolian culture, most notably the ger. During this time the Zuun Huree, Manjusri Hiid, and Amarbayasgalant Monastery were all built.

In the 1900s Mongolia came under heavy Russian influence and this altered this architecture as there were attempts to mix traditional Mongolian styles with Russian constructions. It also introduced Soviet styled architecture after the Soviets took over Russia in the early-1900s. Most of Ulaanbaatar's downtown, including most of their governmental and civic buildings, are in the Soviet style. Most of the city's housing is also in this style.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 there has been a return to traditional architecture in Mongolia as this began with the renovation of Gandan Monastery. This came in conjunction with modern architecture being built, again, primarily in the capital. The Ulaanbaatar Bank building and the Genghis Khan hotel in the capital are very modern buildings.

This page was last updated: July, 2012