After breakfast, we drive to Karakorum, to visit the legendary monastery Erdene Zuu, the first Buddhist monastery in Central Mongolia founded in 1586, followed by the Museum of Karakorum and its surroundings the Turtle Rock and the Phallic stone, and the newly established Karakorum museum. Lunch is served in a tourist camp in Karakorum. Dinner and an overnight at Hoyor Zagal camp.
*** Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia was established by Genghis Khan in 1220 in the Orkhon valley. For 140 years Karakorum served as the capital of the United Mongol tribes until it was destroyed by the Chinese troops in 1391. The remains of the capital that stood at the crossroads of the Silk Road are extensive underground archaeological assets and two granite turtles that once stood at the main gate to the city. Four of these turtle sculptures used to mark the boundaries of ancient Karakorum, acting as protectors of the city (turtles are considered symbols of eternity). In 1586, Erdene Zuu, the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia was built on the ruins of the 13th century capital. Vast walls of 400 m in length with 108 stupas surrounding the monastery are the symbol of Karakorum. Time and history were not merciful to Erdene Zuu monastery but it still carries the traces of its former glory and provides a great insight into the rich religious and cultural past of Mongolia.