Ancient Roman Fortress or Buddhist Temple in the Middle of Siberia?

1Por-Bazhyn is an ancient fortress situated on one of the islands of Tere-Khol lake. “Por-Bazhyn” means “a clay house”. It occupies a territory of 4 hectares. The fortress’s length is 211 meters, the width is 158 meters. Its destroyed walls reach the height of 8 meters. There is a hole in the middle of the eastern wall – a gate place. There were fortified towers situated on the left and on the right side of the gate. Inside the fortress there were 27 houses located along the walls. In the centre of the fortress there were 2 big buildings approximately 23 meters high. Two wide brick stairs were found near the eastern wall. There were also 36 massive columns which supported the roof. The southern wall of the fortress was made of 10 brick rows.

Ancient Fortress

The fortress Por-Bazhyn was opened by the first archaeologists of Tuvan ancient towns – D. Klements in 1891. Since that time a lot of archaeological excavations were made on the territory of Por-Bazhyn. Nowadays there are several scientific versions about Por-Bazhyn’s foundation. Archaeological dig of 1950 revealed that the fortress was obviously a Buddhist temple built in XI-XII centuries which was destroyed by fire during an assault. Another version is that Por-Bazhyn is a fortress which was built in VIII century by Chinese constructors for the Great Uygur Khan. Tuvan shamans say that the fortress is situated on the place of the northern exit to a legendary country Shambala.

Roman Fortress
Buddhist Temple
Buddhist Temple

Today archaeologists are sure that the fortress wasn’t robbed due to its hard to reach position. This fact allows scientists to continue their work on the territory of Por-Bazhyn.


In 2007 a scientific archaeological expedition was organized on Tere-Khol lake on the initiative of Emergency control minister Sergey Shoygu. He is included in the list of famous tuvinian people. Sergey Shoygu was born in 1955 in Chadan city, Tuva republic. He is one of the most extraordinary figures in the government of the Russian Federation, the leader of “Edinstvo” political party and the president of the International rescuer association.


The participants of the expedition were students from Russian universities and famous scientists. After the minister Sergey Shoygu made the speech, the Buddhist monks said their prayers and local shamans carried out the ritual of kamlanie.

In 1995 the fortress was included in the list of historical and cultural inheritance of the Russian Federation.


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