The cultural landscape of the Orkhon Valley lies in the Changai Mountains on both sides of the Orkhon River. The river is the lifeline of the region and has been nomadic land since time immemorial. The world heritage also includes archaeological sites such as Karakoram. The city was built by Genghis Khan in 1220 and was the capital of the Mongol Empire, which made the Orkhon Valley the center of an empire stretching from the Pacific to the Mediterranean.
Orkhon Valley cultural landscape: facts
|Official title:||Orkhon Valley cultural landscape|
|Cultural monument:||Cultural landscape in the Changai Mountains with a total area of 1,220 km²; extensive pastureland on both banks of the Orkhon River; there are also archaeological sites around Kharkhorin, the capital of the Mongol Empire established by Genghis Khan in 1220|
|Location:||Orkhon Valley, in the grasslands by the Orkhon River|
|Meaning:||Testimony of the connection between nomadic pastoral societies and their administrative and religious centers|
The cradle of the Mongolian nation
According to youremailverifier, the Orkhon River crosses the heart of Mongolia over a length of over 1000 kilometers. Nomads have lived on its banks for over 1000 years and have left their mark on the Orkhon Valley in the course of history. The earliest evidence of the settlement of this steppe landscape include memorial stones on the graves of old Turkish tribal princes from the 8th century. A little later, the city of Karabalgas became an important trading center on the Silk Road. In the 13th century, Karakorum emerged, later the capital of the Mongol Empire under the successors of Genghis Khan. The cultural landscape of Orkhon Valley includes extensive pasture areas on both banks of the river, important archaeological sites and the Erdene Zuu monastery, the place of origin of the Mongolian form of Buddhist Lamaism.
The residents of the grass steppes in central Mongolia are still predominantly nomads. They have adapted perfectly to the inhospitable nature: Huge distances, relentless wilderness, harsh winters with temperatures as low as -50 ° C, freezing winds and dusty summers determine their lives. In mobile yurts, they move with sheep, goats, yaks, horses and camels from pasture to pasture and make a living from raising cattle. Even if the peoples in Central Mongolia have always lived predominantly nomadic, they nonetheless erected permanent structures and even cities. The nomadic Uighurs built the city of Karabalgas in the middle of the central Mongolian grass steppe in the 8th century. The clay buildings housed up to 10,000 people, and Karabalgas developed into an early trading center on the Silk Road.
“You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse, but you cannot rule it from the back of a horse” – this is what an adviser once warned the mighty Genghis Khan. And so the Mongol ruler founded a settlement in the Changai Mountains, which later – among his successors – was looking for its own kind: Karakoram. It was the political and religious center of an empire that stretched from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. The rectangular city complex was surrounded by an earth wall, through which four gates provided entry into the city. A crossroads made up of a north-south axis and an east-west axis divided the city into four quarters in which people from different cultures lived. For example, there were Muslims at home in Karakoram who had their own mosque and bazaar, as well as Chinese and European craftsmen for whom there was a Christian church. However, the predominant religion was early Buddhism, remembered by hundreds of small ornate stupas made of clay. In the southwest of the city was the palace district, which covered an area of about 250 by 260 meters. A witness from the 13th century described a palace built on pillars, in which milk, schnapps and honey flowed from a silver tree. However, the remains of the palace complex have not been found to this day, and there is no trace of the immeasurable treasures that Genghis Khan and his successors brought back from their conquests. Century described a palace built on pillars in which milk, liquor and honey flowed from a silver tree. However, the remains of the palace complex have not been found to this day, and there is no trace of the immeasurable treasures that Genghis Khan and his successors brought back from their conquests. Century described a palace built on pillars in which milk, liquor and honey flowed from a silver tree. However, the remains of the palace complex have not been found to this day, and there is no trace of the immeasurable treasures that Genghis Khan and his successors brought back from their conquests.
One reason why the palace complex has still not been found may be that the Erdene Zuu (“Precious Lord”) monastery was built on its ruins in 1585 under Abbot Sain Khan. This is at least suggested by excavations under the monastery walls, which unearthed older masonry. Once in this monastery there were 62 temples for up to 10,000 monks, its walls were adorned with numerous stupas. The central monastery temple was built according to the Tibetan model, because the relationships between the Mongolian nomads and Tibet are ancient, and monasteries and Lama monks have shaped religious and social life in central Mongolia for centuries. Today there is a popular Buddhism that incorporates elements of the old natural religion of shamanism and spirit worship. In 1937 the Erdene Zuu monastery was destroyed, for under the predominance of the Soviet-style communists religion was forbidden. With Mongolia’s independence in 1990, Erdene Zuu, like other monasteries in the country, was reopened, and Buddhist Lamaism has been experiencing a renaissance in Mongolia since then.