Image by Jane Sweeney Getty Images
Built between 1893 and 1903, this palace is where Mongolia’s eighth Living Buddha, and last king, Jebtzun Damba Hutagt VIII (often called the Bogd Khan), lived for 20 years. For reasons that are unclear, the palace was spared destruction by the Russians and turned into a museum. The summer palace, on the banks of Tuul Gol, was completely destroyed. There are six temples in the grounds; each now contains Buddhist artworks, including sculptures and thangkas.
The white, Western-looking building to the right as you enter is the Winter Palace. Within you'll encounter a room showing the king and queen's unusual living arrangements, and a collection of gifts received from foreign dignitaries, such as a pair of golden boots from a Russian tsar, a robe made from 80 unfortunate foxes and a ger lined with the skins of 150 leopards. Mongolia’s Declaration of Independence (from China in 1911) is among the exhibits.
The Bogd Khan’s penchant for unusual wildlife explains the extraordinary array of stuffed animals in the palace. Some of them had been part of his personal zoo – look out for the photo of the Bogd’s elephant, purchased from Russia for 22,000 roubles.
The exhibition hall in the northern part of the complex has temporary displays from the palace's collection; visit the website to see what's showing.
The Winter Palace is a few kilometres south of Chinggis Khaan Sq. It is a bit too far to walk, so take a taxi or catch bus 7 or 19.