Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape And It’s Exceptional Universal Value

The Orkhon Valley exemplifies how a strong and enduring nomadic culture paved the way for broad trade networks and the establishment of huge governmental, commercial, military, and religious centers. These metropolitan centers' empires unquestionably affected communities across Asia and into Europe, absorbing influence from both east and west in a true exchange of human ideals.

Orkhon Valley

For the past two millennia, a strong culture of nomadic pastoralism has underpinned all growth in the Orkhon valley. This tradition is still treasured and important in Mongolian society, and it is seen as a "noble" way of living in connection with nature.

Orkhon Valley Depicts Key Stages In Human History

The Orkhon Valley is an excellent example of a valley that depicts numerous key stages in human history. The Erdene Zuu monastery and the Tuvkhun hermitage monastery were the site for the development of a Mongolian version of Buddhism; and fourth, Khar Balgas depicts the Uighur urban culture in the capital of the Uighur Empire.

The 121,967-hectare Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape features a large expanse of pastureland on both banks of the Orkhon River, as well as various archaeological relics going back to the 6th century. The site also includes Kharkhorum, Chingis (Genghis) Khan's enormous Empire's capital in the 13th and 14th centuries. The symbiotic relationships between nomadic, pastoral societies and their administrative and religious centers, as well as the importance of the Orkhon valley in Central Asian history, are reflected in the site's remnants. Mongolian nomadic pastoralists continue to graze the grassland.

Exceptional Universal Value

The Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape (OVCL) located in the central portion of Mongolia, about 360 kilometres southwest of Ulaanbaatar. The site encompasses 121,967 hectares of grassland along the historic Orkhon River, as well as a 61,044-hectare buffer zone. The archaeologically rich Orkhon River watershed was home to a succession of nomadic cultures that grew from prehistoric roots in conjunction with the natural setting of the steppes, resulting in regionally distinctive economic, social, and cultural polities. The Orkhon Valley served as a crossroads of civilizations for ages, hosting major political, commerce, cultural, and religious activities of successive nomadic empires.

The Orkhon Valley was discovered to be particularly appropriate for habitation by waves of nomadic people through the millennia. The sites of Moiltyn Am (40,000-15,000 years ago) and "Orkhon-7," which demonstrate that the Valley was initially occupied around 62,000-58,000 years ago, provide the earliest evidence of human settlement. Following that, the Valley was constantly occupied during the Prehistoric and Bronze periods, and the Huns, Turkic peoples, Uighurs, Kidans, and finally the Mongols populated the valley in proto-historic and early historic eras.

The inscribed property was the site of medieval Kharakhorum, the imperial capital of the enormous Mongol Empire founded by Chinggis Khaan in 1220, at the height of its cultural domination.

A multitude of archaeological remnants and standing structures may be found within the cultural environment, including Turkish memorial sites from the 6th-7th centuries, the Uighur capital of Khar Balgas from the 8th-9th centuries, and the old Mongol imperial capital of Kharakhorum from the 13th-14th centuries.

The Tuvkhun Hermitage, the Shank Western monastery, and Erdene Zuu, the earliest surviving Mongol Buddhist monastery, are testaments to the Northern School of Buddhism's widespread and enduring religious traditions and cultural practices, which, with their respect for all forms of life, enshrine the enduring sustainable management practices of this unique cultural landscape of Central Asia.


The inscribed property spans the Orkhon River, which supplies water and shelter, both of which are necessary for its position as a staging stop on ancient trade routes over the steppes and its subsequent growth as the heart of huge Central Asian empires.

The inscribed property contains evidence of Turkish memorial sites from the 6th-7th centuries, the 8th-9th century Uighur capital of Khar Balgas, the 13th-14th century Mongol capital of Kharkhorum, the earliest surviving Mongol Buddhist monastery at Erdene Zuu, the Hermitage Monastery of Tuvkhum, the Shankh Western Monastery, the palace at Doit Hill, and the ancient towns of Talyn Dorvoljin and Har.

Within the borders of the inscribed area are all elements essential to convey the property of Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape's Outstanding Universal Value.

Lowering water tables, which are related with tree-cutting and mining, contamination of watercourses, and the effects of overgrazing, are all threats to the ecology of the overall landscape and pastoral activities.

Modern highways, rails, and electricity lines threaten the landscape's visual integrity.

The integrity of monastery buildings, city walls, and Turkic tombs may be jeopardized due to a lack of care.


Overall, the Orkhon Valley retains a high level of authenticity as a living cultural environment, representing Central Asian nomadic pastoralism's long-standing traditions. The basic use of the land has remained stable through the centuries, with no negative impact on the landscape's archaeological features, which have high individual and communal authenticity. Although certain modern elements have crept into the landscape, it is still mostly used in a nomadic manner, with herdsmen migrating their flocks across it in season transhumance.

The property's sustained authenticity is dependent on the grasslands' pastoral management regime and the intangible and physical traditions linked with the nomadic way of life.

Needs for protection and management

Pastoralism's survival as a means of managing this cultural landscape is recognized by both federal and local authorities.

Each individual has the right to live in a healthy and safe environment, according to Mongolia's 1992 Constitution, and lands and natural resources can be subjected to national ownership and state protection. In 1996, Khangai Mountain Park was established by Parliament Resolution No.43, which declared a region of the Khangai Mountains, including the upper portion of OVCL, a State Special Protection Area under the Law on Special Protected Areas (1994).

Under the Law on Special Protected Area Buffer Zones, which was passed in 1997, the northern half of the OVCL was awarded "limited protected status." The Orkhon Valley's five principal sites have been declared as Special Protected Areas, while 20 historical and archaeological sites have been classified as Protected Monuments.