Elista was founded in 1865 as a small settlement; the name is from Kalmyk els(e)n ‘sand(y).
Since 1991, the town has been characterized by the slow decay of Soviet-built institutions, and the large construction projects instigated by the republic’s millionaire president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
The town center has a number of renovated public parks focused on the main square, boasting statues to both Vladimir Lenin and the Buddha. To the east of the town lies the Olympic village of the 1998 XXXIII Chess Olympiad, known locally as “City-Chess“. The site has a public swimming pool and an excellent museum of Kalmyk Buddhist art, and is also infrequently used as a conference center.
During his visit in 2004, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama chose a location west of the town center to build a new Buddhist temple for city residents. It was opened in December 2005.
Free souvenirs in Elista!
Welcome to Kalmykia!
Welcome to Elista! Tags: Buddhist art, Chess city, Dalai lama, Dalai lama visits, Elista, Kalmykia, Kalmykian souvenirs, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Olympic village, souvenirs, Vladimir Lenin, Wikipedia, World Chess Olympiad