View of Sobornaya street, one of oldest streets in center of capital of Republic of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude, Russia.

© Irina Kononova/Shutterstock

Ulitsa Sobornaya


The pedestrianised street abutting Odigitria Cathedral preserves the spirit and the wooden lace architecture of the old downtown, populated by merchants and intelligentsia. Original inhabitants suffered badly from Bolshevik violence. A grim reminder of those violent times is the white stone building at the cathedral end of the street, which housed the NKVD – Stalin's secret police, responsible for torture and mass executions. You'll find a touching monument to the victims of oppression at the other end of the street.

Tragedy and comedy often walk hand in hand, as evidenced by the hilarious gilded statues on top of a house that stands right in front of the sombre monument. The house contains Lev Bardanov art gallery, the brainchild of a local businessman, and the statues depict four of his favourite local cultural figures. Locals say the collection is no less eccentric, but the gallery had still not been opened for the public, when we hung around.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Ulan-Ude attractions

1. Odigitria Cathedral

0.05 MILES

Built between 1741 and 1785, UU’s largest church was also the first stone structure to appear in the city. Used as a museum store from 1929 until the fall…

2. Ulan-Ude City Museum

0.35 MILES

Occupying the merchant’s house where imperial heir Nicholas II stayed in 1891, this small but progressive museum has exhibits examining Verkhneudinsk’s…

3. Khangalov Museum of Buryat History

0.66 MILES

Housed in a badly ageing Soviet-era structure, the historical museum has rotating exhibitions dedicated to Buddhism, shamanism and traditional costumes…

4. Opera & Ballet Theatre

0.73 MILES

UU’s striking Stalinist-era theatre reopened after lengthy renovation in 2011 (the first performance was for a group of foreign tourists from the luxury…

5. Lenin Head

0.86 MILES

Ulan-Ude’s main square is entirely dominated by the world’s largest Lenin head that creates an ensemble with the grey constructivist government building…

6. Geological Museum

0.87 MILES

This museum displays rocks, crystals and ores from the shores of Lake Baikal as well as art (for sale) made using multihued grit, sand and pebbles.

7. Rinpoche Bagsha Datsan

2.99 MILES

Roosting high above the city’s far north, the inside of this new and unexpectedly modern Tibetan temple looks like a kind of Buddhist-themed bus terminal,…

8. Ethnographic Museum

5.08 MILES

In a forest clearing 6km from central Ulan-Ude, this outdoor collection of local architecture plus some reconstructed burial mounds and the odd stone…