Administrative centre of Irkutskaia oblast, the city is spread out over the banks of the Angara 68km from Baikal. The city was positioned as a stronghold at the mouth of the Irkut river, which is how it got its name. It is the biggest city near Baikal. Population: 596 000 (according to census on 1st January 1999) – 90% Russian, but also Ukrainians, Buryats, Tartars, Jews and others. Every tenth person in Irkutsk is a student. Average age of population: 31.5
Irkutsk appeared on the map in the middle of the 17th century. It was always Irkutsk's fate to become a "window to the East" and to open Russia's way to the Pacific Ocean. All expeditions organized by the Russian government to the Far East, Yakutia, Mongolia, China and Alaska were put together in Irkutsk. The first ambassadors to Peking came through Irkutsk, as did trade caravans on their way to Mongolia and China. Wholesale trade in Eastern Siberia was mainly controlled by Irkutsk merchants. In the first half of the 19th century Irkutsk was the biggest city in Siberia and the administrative and cultural centre of the enormous area stretching from the Yenisey to the Pacific ocean.
AROUND KIROV SQUARE
Kirov square is the town's main square. Not far off is Irkutsk's historical centre – Spasskaia church. At the beginning of the 20th century the Kazanskii cathedral was majestically erected on Tikhvinskaia square. Irkutsk cathedral was one of the biggest religious buildings in Russia. In 1932, the cathedral was torn down and the bricks were used to pave Tikhvinskaia square, raising it by a metre.
BUILDING OF THE OBLAST ADMINISTRATION
Built in the place where the cathedral once stood.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (1881-1884)
Catholics in Irkutsk were mostly Polish exiles. Between 1831 and 1863, the Tsar sent over 20 000 Poles who had participated in the national freedom uprising to Siberia. Today Catholic services and organ concerts take place here.
SPASSKAIA CHURCH (1706-1710)
Open daily except Mondays from 10:00 to 18:00. Spasskaia Church was the second stone building constructed in Irkutsk and is the oldest building still standing in Eastern Siberia.
BOGOIAVLENSKII CATHEDRAL (1718-1726)
Nizhniaia Naberezhniaia, 2
This cathedral was considered to be the head of the eparchy before the Kazanskii cathedral was consecrated. In front of the church important decrees and manifestos were read out and people gathered here in times of celebration and in times of hardship. In 1934, the cathedral was closed, and within its walls a bread factory and halls of residence were set up. The main bell-tower was used to store salt. The Bogoiavlenskii cathedral has since been restored and reinstated as a church.
MEMORIAL TO EMPEROR ALEKSANDR III (1908)
Bulvar Gagarina, at the beginning of ulitsa Karla Marksa.
IRKUTSK STATE UNIVERSITY
Bulvar Gagarina, 18.
Former East Siberian Women's Institute. Funding for its construction was bequeathed by the well-known Irkutsk patron E.A.Kuznetsov. On 27th October 1918, the building was given over to the newly founded Irkutsk State University, which is still there today.
KARL MARX STREET – ULITSA KARLA MARKSA
This street used to be known as ulitsa Bolshaia, and is the town's main street. Previously, this was the edge of the town, and there used to be an old fortress and moat located here. Of the 50 buildings here over half were built before the revolution. On the corner of Bulvar Gagarin and ulitsa Karla Marksa is the Irkutsk oblast museum.
IRKUTSK OBLAST MUSEUM
Ulitsa Karla Marksa, 2.
The museum was built in 1882-3 in Moorish style. The funds to build the new building of the museum of the East Siberian department of the Russian Imperial Geographical Society were collected throughout the country. On the frieze of the museum are 22 names of famous scientists and researchers who worked in Siberia and Asia. G.Miller, scientist and author of "The history of Siberia", and V.A.Obruchev, well-known traveller, scientist and fiction-writer, both worked within the walls of the museum.
WOODEN ARCHITECTURE IN IRKUTSK
Irkutsk has the biggest range of 19th century wooden architecture in Siberia. Out of all Siberian towns, only Irkutsk and Tobolsk have preserved their historic face. Wooden houses can be found in the centre of Irkutsk. If you walk 500m from Lenin's monument down Lenin street towards Krestovozdvizhenskaia church, you will reach the old part of Irkutsk with its characteristic wooden architecture. Timiriazeva, Podgornaia and Lapina streets are some of the streets near the church not destroyed by the 1879 fire.
THE HOUSE OF THE SHASTINS
The house was built at the end of the 19th century and is better known as the 'Kruzhevnoi dom' ('the lacy house'). In 1999 a complete restoration of the Shastins' homestead was completed – the building now accommodates representatives of the "House of Europe".
On the corner of ulitsa Dekabrskikh Sobitii and ulitsa Sovetskaia.
The homestead was built at the end of the 19th century and consists of several wooden houses. The old home of V.P.Sukachev was converted into an art gallery and his collection is now the core of the main exhibition at the Irkutsk Art Museum. Also on site are the buildings of the girls' school which Sukachev built, funded and maintained, the servants' houses, and the stable. The house where Vladimir Platonovich and his family lived has been replaced by a tank. The homestead is currently undergoing restoration.
CHURCHES AND MONASTERIES:
KRESTOVOZDVIZHENSKAIA CHURCH (1747-1758)
Known throughout Russia as an architectural masterpiece, this church is distinct for the Siberian baroque brick ornamentation on its walls. The church was built with funds provided by the Irkutsk merchant and sailor I.Shcherbakov.
ZNAMENSKII MONASTERY (1752-1762)
A convent was founded here in 1689. Construction of the stone building of the monastery was completed in 1762 in place of the wooden one. Of the buildings here the Znamenskii church is in best condition. In Siberia there were formerly 15 convents, of which the one in Irkutsk and the Yeniseiskii were the largest. In the 1920s, the temple of the Irkutsk convent was turned into a workshop for hydroaviators. There is a necropolis on the grounds. G.I.Shelikhov and E.I.Trubetskaia are both buried here. E.I.Trubetskaia turned down the rights of a citizen, her wealth and position in society to be with her husband. Next to the monument to E.I.Trubetskaia is a four-cornered stone marking the place where three of the Trubetskii children, Sofia, Vladimir and Nikita, are buried. Not far off from here is the moument to Admiral Kolchak and the cross marking the place where he was shot. St.Innocent, first Bishop of Irkutsk. He became the first in the line of Irkutsk bishops. After his death he was proclaimed a saint on account of the righteous life he led. In 1921 his coffin was opened by Red Army soldiers. In 1990, his imperishable body was found in Yaroslavl, and brought back to Irkutsk. They are preserved in the Znamenskii monastery.
KAZANSKAIA CHURCH (1885-1892)
A rare example of typical late 19th century architecture.
CHURCH OF THE BIRTH OF CHRIST
'Irkutsk 2' district
On 6th December 1997 'Ruslan', the biggest airplane in the world, loaded with 40 tons of fuel and carrying 2 Su-27 jets to Vietnam, crashed during take off into a residential area on Grazhdanskaia street. 72 people died, including 14 children. This church was built on site of this terrible tragedy in memory of all those who died.
V.P.SUKACHEV IRKUTSK OBLAST ART MUSEUM
Open 10:00 – 18:00 daily except Tuesdays. The oldest and wealthiest art museum in Siberia. The core of their permanent collection consists of works of art which belonged to the distinguished public figure in Irkutsk V.P.Sukachev (1849 - 1920).
SIBERIAN ART SECTION OF THE IRKUTSK OBLAST ART MUSEUM
Karla Marksa, 23.
Open daily from 10:00 – 17:30 except Mondays. There are always different exhibitions going on here.
IRKUTSK OBLAST MUSEUM
Karla Marksa, 2.
Open daily 10:00 – 18:00 except Mondays. This is one of the oldest museums in Russia, founded in 1782. A fire in 1879 destroyed everything. Three hundred thousand objects make up the total museum collection.
NATURE SECTION OF THE IRKUTSK OBLAST MUSEUM
Karla Marksa, 11.
Open daily from 10:00 – 18:00 except Mondays.
HOUSE OF DECEMBRIST S.P.TRUBETSKII (1850s)
Open daily 10:00 – 17:30 except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A museum opened on 29th December 1970 in the house of the Trubetskiis. From 1845, when the Trubetskiis and the Volkonskiis moved to Irkutsk, until the amnesty in 1856, the provincial capital became the centre of the Decembrist colony in Eastern Siberia. The permanent exhibition tells the story of the lives of the Decembrists in the East Siberian penal servitude, and includes possessions which belonged to the Trubetskiis, furniture, the embroidery of princess Trubetskaia, and her daughter's paintings.
HOMESTEAD OF DECEMBRIST S. G. VOLKONSKII
pereulok Volkonskogo, 10
Open daily 10:00 – 17:30 except Mondays. The house of the Volkonskiis was originally built in 1838 in the village of Urik, Irkutsk province. In 1846, the Volkonskiis acquired a plot of land in Irkutsk opposite the church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and moved their house from Urik to Irkutsk. According to the memoirs of their contemporaries, the house of the Volkonskiis soon became the main centre of Irkutsk social life. Balls, masquerades for the youth, and literature, music, and theatre evenings took place here. Seventeen of the thirty years Volkonskiis' lived in Siberia were spent in this house. On 10th December 1985, after 11 years of restoration work, the museum was opened to the public.
MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY OF IRKUTSK
Chaikovskogo, 5 – local buses No. 8, 11, 22 or 23 to bus-stop 'Garazh'
Open 10:00 – 18:00 daily except Wedensdays. Ticket office closes at 17:00. On display are dioramas of the development of the town in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and models of the Irkutsk fortress and Voznesenskii monastery.
S.V.SIDOROV IRKUTSK STATE MINERALOGICAL MUSEUM
Part of Irkutsk State Technical University
Lermontova, 83, corpus "E".
Tel. 405062. Open weekdays 09:00 – 17:00, Saturdays 9:00 – 14:00, closed on Sundays.
Open daily 9:00 – 22:00. Tel. 358551.