In many ways, the Zaisan Memorial is a massive show of appreciation for the Soviet Union, from the Mongolian people. Seeming to promote good relations between the two states, the monument was actually created by the Soviet Union to depict just how much they had done for the lowly eastern communist state.
Located on a hill south of the city, the monument features a circular memorial painting that depicts scenes of friendship between the peoples of the USSR and Mongolia. Ostensibly built to commemorate Soviet soldiers in World War II, the sprawling mural also illustrates the defeat of the Japanese in 1939, which brought Mongolia into the Soviet sphere of influence. Of course the victory over Nazi Germany, a battle that subsumed Mongolian troops into the Red Army, is also prominently featured.
In 2003, a tank memorial, featuring a Soviet tank from a brigade paid for by the Mongolian people, was moved to the foot of the hill. The tank memorial includes a map showing the route the brigade took from Moscow in 1943 for participation in the fall of Berlin in 1945. From the bottom of the hill, visitors can choose to make the climb of more than five hundred steps in order to reach the monument and mural. Those who make the climb receive a reward of a spectacular panoramic view of Ulaanbaatar, the surrounding mountains and the Tuul river.
Know Before You Go
From Ulaanbaatar, look south and the huge monument will guide you.