History

The town was founded on Batareyka in 1666. Originally it was a small winter hut built by soldiers under command of Gavrila Lovtsov, later it developed into a pentagon shaped fortress-ostrog that became a fortified strong point in the east of the country to protect from Mongol attacks. Udinsk, Verkhneudinsk, Ulan-Ude these were the names of the city throughout its history. Each phase is a certain milestone in its development.

Udinsky ostrog had great prospects of economic development due to its location at the crossroads of main trade routes with China. Initially Udinsky ostrog was subordinate to Selenginsky ostrog manager who annually sent his twenty Cossacks for a one year long service but in 1687 it became the leading one in a chain of Transbaikalia fortresses.

In 1690 the ostrog was renamed into Verkneudinsk. The idea belonged to Fyodor Golovin, a supporter of Peter the Great. Beneath the ostrog a big town developed. Its first citizens were Cossacks and riflemen, salesclerks and merchants, factory workers and peasants. The municipal economy's trend in trade facilitated the rise of Verkneudinsk as an important centre of Russian and Chinese trade in the late 17th century. Verkheudinsk saw the development of warehouses, goods transfer and distribution, primary accumulation of capital. Trade fairs started to be held annually.

In 1783 Verkhneudinsk became a provincial town. It consisted of two parts, the urban and suburban. The first part included a wooden fortress with watchtowers, a powder magazine, an artillery arsenal and a detention house. In the second part there were proviantskij (food) and economic warehouses, public offices, wine stores, retail stalls, one hundred and ten private houses, three churches.

In 1790 Verkhneudinsk was awarded a Coat of Arms, symbolizing the status of the town as a centre of trade and commerce. In the coat of arms there was Mercury's rod and Horn of Plenty, a sign of «notable fairs» held in town. Provincial authorities awarded Verkhneudinsk with the coat of arms hoping that merchants will expand the glory of the town as a commercial centre.

There used to be fairs twice a year: in January purchases, sales, exchanges of different goods, food, live stock and game took place. The turnover was about one million rubles. At the fair of Holy Cross Day fish of the autumn catch and agricultural produce were sold. The turnover was not really big.

Furs of sable, squirrel, polar fox and marten were especially valuable at fairs as well as leather and wool. Local goods including livestock, merlushka lamb skin and bread were also sold at fairs. The largest fairs were held in the second half of the XIX century.

...WE ARE DESCENDING from Batareyka to the main street. Many Siberian towns and villages were founded along the Siberian tract (also called Great Moscow road, Great prisoner's tract). Our main street is not an exception; it was named Tractovaya, later renamed into Bolshaya (Big) and Bolshaya - to Nicolaevskaya after the visit of Nicolai Alexandrovich crown prince of Russian Empire. Since 1934 it has been known as Lenin Street.

Leaving the church yard you will find yourself in the square after Dorji Banzarov, the first Buryat scientist-orientalist. Buryat state university is named after the scientist. There used to be a stable yard.

On the opposite side there is an old wooden house decorated with wood carving. It is protected by the state as a monument of wooden architecture. In fact it is in this part of town where one can find many unique samples of Siberian baroque - old houses of wooden architecture with multilevel wood fretwork. They are true decorations of a modern city.

Merchant Novikov's house is a two storey building with open galleries on the second floor (today there is a shop on the first floor).

Next to it there is a house of Yakov Nemchinov, a merchant of the 1st gild (20, Lenin st.). Yakov Nemchinov was a millionaire. He had his own shops, sales agencies, did a good trade in Kyakhta. He paid the construction of the public well and a missionary's chapel named after Innokenty Irkutsky, a holy hierarch, who lived in Transbaikalia from1722 to 1727.

In 1936 a House of Pioneers was located in the building. During the Second World War the building was a house for a war hospital. Today it houses Children and Youth Art Center. On the opposite side of the street there is a two storey building, the construction funded and given freely to Verkhneudinsk by its honorable citizen Pyotr Avakumovich Frolov for housing the male gymnasium or male non-classical secondary school. In 1906 the first teachers' Congress was held there.

The ensemble of a Shopping Arcade is indeed a great monument of architecture of the national significance. It was built in the period from 1804 to 1868 by the design of Irkutsk architect A. Losev. His plan to build it as a stone quadrate building with a large inner court and arcade from the outside received «the imperial permit». The project was approved and the construction began on shareholding principle but soon it stopped because of shareholders' sophisticated imagination and lack of financing. The construction had a twenty year delay and yet unfinished Shopping Arcade was put into operation.

In 1834 the construction of Maly Shopping Arcade started. In the central front four passages were made. The most important was the southern front of the Shopping Arcade with arches and square columns. The building served its town planning role of a public city center. The square was named Gostinodvorskaya. Twice a year fairs were held there. It was a place of busy trading and performing. Clown and puppet masters used to amuse the audience. The northern side of the square was built by merchants Menshikov, Borisov, and Rubinstein. Today it is a shop known as «Goods for Women» or as a former grocery stores. In the centre of the square there is Big Shopping Arcade ensemble. There was also a Maly Shopping Rows in the northern side. In 60-ies of the last century they were pulled down and replaced by a Central Department Store, small shops, tailors' and dentists'. These buildings somewhat closed the Arcade.

In 1871 a stone chapel was built on the north-western side of the Big Shopping Arcade. This small building of «Russian and Byzantine» architecture stayed till 30-ies of the XX century and later was pulled down. In 2002, after 83 years it was built anew and consecrated in honor of all Russian saints. In 80-ies of the XIX century a public well, a two-storey stone building was built with money of merchant Losev in the south-western side of Shopping Arcade, near Troitskaya Street. It preserved till today and now it houses a shop. In 80-ies of XIX century there was a small public garden there.

On the eastern side of the square in Losevskaya Street (today Kommunisticheskaya str.) Losev's house and a big Vtorov's shop - a warehouse were built. They were decorated by fourteen archways, a kind of replica of a Shopping Arcade. In 30-ies of XX century they were rebuilt as a common two-story house. Today it houses the faculty of electrical engineering of the East-Siberian state university of technology.

The square used to be a crowded place where one can learn all the town news. In 1970 the monument to «Perished for communism» was transferred from the square of Soviets because of its reconstruction and opening of Lenin's monument to commemorate his one hundred birthday anniversary.

Only part of Bazarnaya street (today Kirovs street) was named as Square of Revolution. Its three sides were named Kommunisticheskaya, Kuibyshev and Lenin streets.

...FROM THE SQUARE the main street heads uptown... but before we shall walk along «the Arbat» street named so by Ulan-Ude citizens. To be exact it is a part of the street that in 2004 was closed for traffic and opened as a pedestrian street.

The most beautiful building there is Appolon Kurbatovs house the one mentioned before, a one storey stone building with four columns (27, Lenin st).

Kurbatov Mintrofan Kuzmich, a Kyakhta merchant of the 1st gild was head of Verkhneudinsk from 1816 to 1819. His son Apollon Mitrophanovich, the owner of the house, a co-owner of the glass and soap manufacturing plants, an honorable citizen of Verkhneud-insk, was awarded by a medal «For Useful deeds» on St. Anna medal ribbon for the construction of the bridge over the Uda river and fortified river bank.

In 1824 the traveler Alexey Martos, passing through the town, wrote: «Merchant Kurbatov's house of fine architecture with the perfect porch is one of the best buildings in town». In 1875 the heirs of merchant A.M. Kurbatov sold the building with all the outbuildings to Butin brothers, the merchants for twenty five thousand rubles in silver. In early XX century a merchant of the 1st gild Alexander Rozmich Kobylkin, a trustee of educational institutions and orphanages became its owner.

On the other side of Lenin street opposite Kurbatov's house there was a wooden one-storey building with a mezzanine. It belonged to a 1st gild Irkutsk merchant Ivan Flegontovich Goldobin and after his death to his Nickolai Ivanovich Goldobin.

In a stone two-storey building of a famous 2d gild merchant P.T. Trunev there is today a shop «Optician» and a pharmacy of duty. In 1923 it housed Buryat revolutionary committee and in 1920 - Pribaikalsky territorial government and even earlier - the branch of Russian-Asian bank. In 1899 he donated 60 street lamps and street light poles to lighten streets and squares to town.

The old post office corners on Lenin street. The ground floor of the post office is made of stone, the first floor is wooden. It was built in late XIX century as a post and telegraph office. The window frames and building' cornices attracts attention with fancy wood work. A kind of «domik-pryanik»(ginger bread house) is a monument of wooden and stone architecture.


To get to the main city square- the Soviets square we need to pass through the arch, built in 2006 as a 340th anniversary of Verkhneudinsk -Ulan-Ude construction or to be exact rebuilt.

There were twin fluted semi-columns on both sides, entablement on top, Russian coats of armsdouble eagle in the center.

«Tsar Gates» stayed 45 years and in 1936 the construction was completely destroyed. The Soviets square (former Nagornaya square) is the main square of the republic and the capital. The
most important historical and national dates and events are celebrated there with parades, meetings and festivals. Major administrative buildings of the republic of Buryatia and Ulan-Ude are situated on the square: The House of Government, the building of Peoples Khural (the Parliament) and Buryatia President’s residence, administration of Ulan-Ude are outstanding examples of Soviet architecture.