Genghis Khan's legendary city was founded in 1220 in Orkhon Valley, on the Silk Road. In 1235, his son Ogoodei built the city and raised around it a surrounding wall with four doors. The Mongolian Empire was governed from this city, until Khubilai Khan settled the capital in Beijing.
Kharkhorin (Karakorum in English) was at the same time a political, economic, administrative and religious centre, and one of the largest forum of civilizations. The surrounding wall of the city surrounded a 400 metres square area. The city had four stone turtles, whose some are still visible.
As far back as the 8th century, Mongolian people deify the turtle. It symbolizes longevity, solidarity and independence, and it's the animal of the spirit of water. That's why four turtles were set in Kharkhorin, with the aim of keeping off floods and of assuring an eternal life.
The city was completely destroyed by Ming troops in 1380. A few relics still remain, notably two granite turtles, the base of a palace, some stone lions, two columns and a few traces of irrigation channel. The site is protected since 1961. In the ruins of Kharkhorin, archaeologists discovered 230 coins coming from around ten different countries.