Ulan-Ude, founded in 1666, is the capital of the Buryat Autonomous Republic, which in the 13th — 17th centuries was a part of the vast Mongolian Empire. The Buryats, the indigenous population of this territory, were nomadic herders with cultures and languages similar to Mongolian. In 1783 the territory was annexed to the Russian Empire and by order of Empress Elizabeth Buddhism that had been prevailing in this region was officially recognized as a religion in Russia. Unfortunately, the Soviet leaders were not so tolerant and by the end of the 1930-s, the rich and unique Buryat culture was practically totally obliterated. Mongolian script was replaced by Latin and then Cyrillic, and beautiful Buddhist temples were razed to the ground. In the past decades, numerous attempts to revive Buryat culture and religion have been made and hopefully, soon we could admire the beauty of this ancient culture.

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