Shuttered Windows of Ulan-Ude, Siberia


Shuttered Windows of Ulan-Ude, Siberia

It’s not the Soviet architecture that charms the visitor to eastern Siberia. Although many examples of Soviet influence reside in Ulan-Ude it is the uncharacteristic, traditional architecture of the Buryat Republic that entice a walkabout in this eastern Siberian city. In the 1780’s the provincial centre of Ulan-Ude held two annual fairs in late winter and midsummer, commercial life was booming. Fast forward a century and, after the destructive fire of the late 20th century, most of the wealthy merchants rebuilt log houses, with or without plank siding, often decorated with carved window surrounds. Fortunately, a number of these sturdy houses remain in the central districts of the city, testament to the densely forested surrounding Siberian countryside. These wooden houses, witness to the passage of time, have seen the downfall of czarist rule, a country wide revolution, Communism for over seventy years and then a gradual reawakening to the commercial possibilities of trade with China and others; these buildings have tales to tell. Gone is the need or desire to handcraft and paint in whimsy colours, Soviet style and modern practicalities have overtaken the quaint style; those centenarians remaining get applications of repaint over the scaling and peeling, sometimes by a not so accurate applicant. Take a look for yourself.

For more on Siberia, Buryatia and eastern Russia see




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