History of the Moscow to Ulan Ude Train Route
Like many of the towns traversed by the Trans-Siberian Railway, until the late 1800s Ulan-Ude (then known as Verkhne-Udinsk) was just a small town with just a few thousand inhabitants and isolated from other Russian cities. Verkhne-Udinsk’s development was stimulated by the arrival of the Trans-Baikal Railway, part of the Trans-Siberian, which was built between 1895 and 1900. The Trans-Baikal travelled from Mysovaya Station on the southern shore of Lake Baikal to Sretensk Station some 1,100 km to the east, passing through Verkhne-Udinsk en route. Verkhne-Udinsk was renamed Ulan-Ude in 1934.
The local newspaper “Zabaikalskie oblastnye vedomosti” reported the exciting arrival of the first train in Verkhne-Udinsk in August 1899. It was an event celebrated with great fanfare, as the inhabitants of the town decorated their houses with lights and flags, dressed up in their finest outfits, and headed to the station in their thousands to greet the train. It arrived to orchestral music and the ribbon strung over the railway line was cut. The mayor presented bread and salt to the railway workers, and the head of the railway construction brigade gave an impassioned speech about the Trans-Siberian Railway and all the opportunities it would bring. Passenger traffic was opened in December 1899, with three departures per week in each direction.
Back in 1899, the very first journey between Mysovskaya and Verkhne-Udinsk took a little over 14 hours. Luckily for passengers today, the journey is much quicker – just 3 ½ hours on the Rossiya Trans-Siberian train.
What to see on the Moscow to Ulan-Ude train route
Yaroslavl: one of Russia’s ancient Golden Ring cities. You can discover the city’s thousand-year history while visiting its many religious and historical monuments like the Saviour Monastery and Church of Elijah the Prophet.
Yekaterinburg: the fourth most populated city in Russia has a brilliant cultural scene. Highlights of Yekaterinburg include the Literary Quarter, Yeltsin Center, and the Church on Blood, built on the site of the demolished Ipatiev House where the last Tsar’s family was murdered.
Novosibirsk: the capital of Siberia and the largest hub of Russian culture and science after St Petersburg and Moscow. Here you can visit the Opera and Ballet Theater, State Art Museum, Central Siberian Botanical Garden, and Akademgorodok (‘Academic Town’ – developed as a research centre of science and technology in the 1950s).
Irkutsk: founded in the mid-17th century, Irkutsk was an important Imperial Russian city. Its landmarks today include historical wooden architecture, the Taltsy Open Air Ethnographic Museum, and the house-museums of the Decembrists. Irkutsk is the ideal base for visiting Lake Baikal.
Baikalsk: a little town perched on the shore of Lake Baikal. Its attractions include the red sand Pomegranate beach and the snow sports resort on Mount Sobolinaya.
Ulan-Ude: the capital city of the Republic of Buryatia and the spiritual center of Tibetan Buddhism in Russia. Here you can see the elaborate Ivolginsky Datsan and the hilltop Rinpoche Datsan, visit the Odigitrievsky Cathedral and discover the unique combination of Russian and Buryat cultures.