|Erdene Zuu Monastery|
The Erdene Zuu Monastery is probably the most ancient surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. It is in Ovorkhangai Province, near the town of Kharkhorin and adjacent to the ancient city of Karakorum. It is part of the World Heritage Site entitled Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape.
The monastery was damaged by warfare in the 1680s, but was rebuilt in the 18th century and by 1872 had a full 62 temples inside.
Erdene Zuu was allowed to exist as a museum only; the only functioning monastery in Mongolia was Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. However, after the fall of Communism in Mongolia in 1990, the monastery was turned over to the lamas and Erdene Zuu again became a place of worship. Today Erdene Zuu remains an active Buddhist monastery as well as a museum that is open to tourists.
On a hill outside the monastery sits a stone phallus. The phallus is said to retain the sexual impulses of the monks and ensure their good behavior.