Karakorum city ruins
Mongolia's ancient capital, Karakorum, Chinggis Khaan's fabled city, was founded in 1220 in the Orkhon Valley, at the crossroads of the Silk Road. It was from there that the Mongol Empire was governed until Kubilai Khan moved it to Beijing. It served as the capital for 40 years. Following the move, and the subsequent collapse of the Mongolian empire, Karakorum was abandoned. Whatever was left was used to help build the glorious Erdene Zuu monastery in the 16th century.
Nearby, Turkish monuments and rock inscriptions erected in 8-9th centuries in memory of outstanding fighters for independence.
Erdene zuu monastery
The symbolic ruins of Karakorum monumental walls (400 m of length) with 108 stupas, surround the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia Erdenezuu Monastery, built in 1586. In 1792, it housed 62 temples and 10,000 lamas; which itself was badly destroyed during the Stalinist purges in the 1930s. After democratic movement in 1990, it has become an active monastery again. Turtles carved from the stone marked the boundaries of the complex. Today it retains much of its former glory. Enclosed in an immense walled compound, the 3 temples within are dedicated to the 3 stages of Buddha's life: as a child, adolescent and adult. The main, central temple is called the Zuu of Buddha and has statues of Buddha as a child. Outside the monastery walls are 2 'turtle rocks'. Four of these once marked the boundaries of ancient Karakorum.