Baikal State University

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Irkutsk city

We are located in the heart of Siberia – Irkutsk. The city has taken on several roles in its more than 350 years of existence, including expedition base for explorations of Siberia, city of exiles, and gold rush town, just to name a few. Among the city's nicknames are "The capital of Eastern Siberia" and even "Paris of Siberia".

Proximity to a sacred Lake Baikal and the river Angara determines the soul of the city and its people – calm, kind, patient and generous. Modern Irkutsk is a historical city which combines magnificence and unique nature of a historical center with blocks of modern buildings as well as traditions of one of the most intelligent and educated Siberian city with high industrial, research and educational potential.

Irkutsk is a large industrial, scientific, educational and cultural center of Eastern Siberia and Irkutsk region.

Rich and eventful history of the city is reflected in its architectural style. The oldest layer of Irkutsk architecture – the wooden one – is especially interesting. “A city made of lace” – that is how tourists describe old Irkutsk. Look at some of its historical sights, as well as places of interest and entertainment.

Irkutsk Railway Station

Irkutsk Railway Station is the first thing you would see when you arrive in Irkutsk by Trans-Siberian Railway. This beautifully designed building was initially constructed in 1898 to meet the first train that came to Irkutsk that year. Since then the building has been reconstructed and modernized several times, but has still preserved its original style and beauty.

The 130th Quarter (historical reconstruction of old Irkutsk)

The 130th Quarter was completed by the city’s 350th anniversary in 2011. The huge sculpture that represents the coat-of-arms of Irkutsk marks the entrance to this wonderful place.

Appreciate the scale of this unique project: ancient buildings and monuments of wooden architecture of the 18th-19th centuries were transferred from different streets of the city. Now the 130th Quarter of Irkutsk (130 Kvartal or Irkutsk Sloboda) has 65 houses. Almost all of them are architectural masterpieces of the past. Some of them were restored, another part was rebuilt. Lace wooden buildings, each with its own legend, unique comfort of small streets. Located in the old houses of the block are museums, a planetarium, shops, cafes and restaurants. In a word, there is something to do. And just walking here is a huge pleasure. Masters managed to recreate not only architectural monuments, but also a special, unique atmosphere. A real corner of leisure and entertainment.

Moscow Triumphal Arch

The famous Moscow highway approached the left bank of the Angara River, and with a boat bridge travelers were able to finally arrive in Irkutsk. The triumphal arch was constructed in 1813 and acquired the name of Moscow Arch.

The arch was an impressive structure. It had four brick tiers; the towers’ height was 19 m, width - 7.1 m and length - 16.3 m. The functional purpose of the arch was to inspect and register all arriving travelers. Throughout the entire duration of its existence, the Moscow Arch was inseparably linked with the history of Irkutsk. Through this arch came virtually all travelers, writers, researchers, public figures, diplomats, who visited Irkutsk since 1813 till the end of XIX century. The arch was dismantled in 1925 because of its disrepair and recreated in 2011, when the city celebrated its 350th anniversary.

By the Arch there is a landing pier where you can take a 30-minute cruise on a boat on the river Angara.

Religious structures

Kazan Church

Kazan Church named after the icon of the Lord’s Mother of Kazan was built in 1892 by a local merchants and philanthropists for craftsmen that lived and worked in this district. Its Russian-Byzantine architectural style makes it one of the most beautiful churches in the region. Now it is the current Russian Orthodox Church.

The Cathedral of the Epiphany

Cathedral of the Epiphany - a monument of architecture of the 17th century, the oldest stone building in Eastern Siberia and the Far East. The cathedral was restored in 1967 to 1985. Cathedral of the Epiphany is the traditional opening place of the festival "Shining of Russia" in Irkutsk. Now it is the current Russian Orthodox Church.

Znamenskaya Church

Irkutsk Znamensky nunnery began to be built according to the letter given in 1689. In 1757, a stone building of the Znamenskaya Church was laid in the monastery at the expense of the Irkutsk merchant I.S. Bechevin. The main temple was consecrated around 1765, subsequently aisles were added to it and by the end of the XVIII century. The church became a four-throne.

The Catholic Cathedral

The church was built by exiled Poles and is called Polish Cathedral. The wooden building of the church was fixed in 1825, but it was destroyed by the fire of 1879; and the stone church appeared in 1885. In 1978 the cathedral opened its doors for the concerts of organ music. The organ was installed in the central chapel by German specialists. Since 1991 the cathedral is active. The building of the church is supposed to be the only gothic structure in Siberia.

New Catholic Cathedral

Full name – Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God. Built in 2000 and has the status of a cathedral. It was erected by the city authorities instead of the historical building of the Catholic church, which was built in the 19th century. Since the historical building already houses the organ music hall. The new temple is dedicated to the protection of the Mother of God.

Irkutsk Synagogue

The building was built in 1882. A large two-story building with a small dome. A feature of it is a T-shaped plan with a large length of the building towards the courtyard. The facade is distinguished by a variety of facade plastics, an expressive contrast between the semicircular completion of doors and windows and triangular pediments. From 1924 to 1945, the building was not used for religious purposes, it was occupied by various institutions, as a result of which there were significant distortions in the appearance of this architectural monument. In 2009, after major repairs and restoration, the building was returned to its original form.

Irkutsk Cathedral Mosque

The mosque was founded at the end of the 19th century (1897). A small wooden building could not satisfy the needs of the Muslims of Irkutsk. Therefore, the fundraise for construction of a stone building began immediately. By 1905, the construction of a new mosque building was completed, and Irkutsk was decorated with an expressive architectural building with a high minaret. Irkutsk mosque was recognized as one of the best in Russia. From 1939 to 1946, the mosque was closed. In spring 2012, in preparation for the celebration of the 115th anniversary of the mosque its minaret was restored during the reconstruction. Irkutsk Cathedral Mosque is included in the list of monuments of cultural heritage of federal significance.

Angara Embankment

Irkutsk stretches along the river Angara, which not only provides the citizens with pure water that runs directly from Lake Baikal, but also pleases everybody with nice views to enjoy when strolling along the long river embankment.

Wooden architecture

The center of Irkutsk was included in the preliminary list of UNESCO cultural heritage sites. Especially interesting is the most ancient layer of Irkutsk architecture – the wooden one.

House of Europe

The so-called "Lace House" was built at the end of the 19th century. It received this name for skillful carving covering it from above to below. In addition to the house itself, the estate is interesting representing a real architectural ensemble with several houses, a barn and an alley.

House Museum of Volkonsky

The Volkonsky House is known as one of the most interesting memorial museums in Russia. Its appearance and interior decoration together with the entire complex of manor buildings of that time constitute a single whole, convey the color of the era and the atmosphere of noble life in Irkutsk.

Estate Museum of V.P. Sukachev

The estate of V.P. Sukachev is a monument of history and culture of federal significance. In the 19th century, the estate belonged to an outstanding public figure of the second half of the 19th century, Vladimir Platonovich Sukachev (1849-1920), the mayor, philanthropist and founder of the art gallery, which laid the foundation for the Irkutsk Art Museum.

It is the wooden houses of Irkutsk with their nobility, clear lines, clear proportions, unique facade decor and beautiful style that make the city unique, expressive and attractive. The wooden architecture of Irkutsk is striking with its beauty and diversity. Such a delicate work with wood cannot but admire!

Ethnographic Museum Taltsy

And of course, the main attraction here is Lake Baikal, which is only 70 km away from Irkutsk. On the way to the lake there is a place you shouldn’t miss – an ethnographic museum called Taltsy.

"Taltsy", an open-air Architectural and Ethnographic Museum, is a unique collection of historical, architectural and ethnographic monuments of the 17th to 20th centuries.

It is located on the right bank of the river Angara on the 47th kilometer of Baikal highway along the road from Irkutsk to Baikal.

The open-air museum complex attracts visitors with the opportunity to directly get acquainted with the material and spiritual culture of the peoples of Baikal region of the 17th to early 20th centuries.

Cultural entertainment places

Drama Theatre

Drama Theatre was built in 1897 and reconstructed in 2000. The first troop was formed in Irkutsk in 1851, and since then it has developed into a great professional theatrical troop famous both in Russia and abroad.

Musical Theatre

It was organized on March 19, 1941 on the basis of the Gorky Musical Comedy Theater, which toured in Irkutsk. In the 1950-80, classical and Soviet operetta prevailed in the repertoire. In 1990, the theater received the status of a musical and new building. Since the mid-90s, thanks to cooperation with the Pilgrim Theater, rock operas have been staged. In 1997, the Chamber Stage was opened.

Philharmonic Concert Hall

In spring 1939, the Irkutsk Regional Philharmonic opened. After 12 years, philharmonic lectures, concerts, musical and literary evenings began to be held in the building of the former Public Assembly, built in 1890... To this day, the Philharmonic Concert Hall is located here, beloved and actively attended by many Irkutsk residents. In 1958, a symphony orchestra appeared in the Philharmonic, in 1974 - a chamber orchestra.

Other entertainments in Irkutsk include various nightclubs, karaoke-clubs, restaurants and cafes, board-game clubs and movie-theatres.

Museums of Irkutsk

Museum of Regional Studies

The building in Moorish style was constructed in 1883 for the museum founded much earlier by the Russian Geographic society, whose members’ names you can see engraved on the front side. The museum contains a unique collection of artefacts that tell about the life of people in this region from the Stone Age till present days.

Other museums of Irkutsk

Among the museums of Irkutsk there are Regional Museum of Arts, Museum of Irkutsk History, State Museum of Minerals, Modern Art Gallery, Museum of Experimental Science, and many others. The Museum of Arts, for instance, contains an outstanding collection of paintings by famous Russian and foreign artists, as well as other items of art.