Irkutsk is one of the three capitals of wooden architecture in Russia. Due to the large concentration of wooden ancient monuments, the center of Irkutsk is also planned to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. By the way, before the revolution, Irkutsk for a long time was also the capital of a vast territory from the Trans-Urals to the Pacific Ocean. And although today it is officially considered only the center of the region, the city still combines metropolitan gloss and the lovely charm of the province.
There are so many attractions in and around Irkutsk that a weekend to get to know them may not be enough. But if you try, here are the places worth visiting first.
- You can fly from Moscow to Irkutsk every day. Prices start at 5,284 rubles * one way. The flight lasts from 6 hours.
- 1 night in a hostel – from 400 rubles * or in a 3 * hotel from 1,300 rubles *;
- Average bill in a cafe – 400 rubles;
- City walks, public transport, souvenirs – 800 rubles.
130th quarter (Irkutsk settlement)
Photo: @ my_irkutsk_38 / Instagram.com
Irkutskaya Sloboda or the 130th quarter is one of the hallmarks of Irkutsk – a public space with a total area of 5.7 hectares is a restored historical building. Earlier, on the site of the now fashionable quarter, there was a dilapidated wooden dwelling. The first houses on this land began to be built back in the 18th century. In 2010, the city government decided to restore the objects of wooden architecture and by the 350th anniversary of Irkutsk, in 2011, the 130th quarter was inaugurated.
Now it is one of the most popular places in the city, there are dozens of various cafes, bars and restaurants for every taste, as well as many shops and souvenir shops.
In the 130th quarter there are also: the planetarium, the “Window to Asia” section of the local history museum, the “DiaS” gallery of modern art, the “Experimentary” museum of entertaining science, a second-hand bookstore and much more. In addition, the very space of the quarter is conducive to a leisurely stroll. In the finale, you can take a photo against the background of the symbol of Irkutsk – the statue of “babr”.
Photo: @ my_irkutsk_38
Another attraction in Irkutsk is the Angara embankment, which gives the city center not only its beauty, but also fresh air. There are three parts where squares and public spaces are equipped – Upper Embankment, Gagarin Boulevard and Lower Embankment.
In the area of the Upper Embankment there is a small square, restaurants and shops. An excellent view of the hydroelectric dam opens from here. Closer to the center from Kozhova Street to Glazkovsky Bridge is the pedestrian boulevard Gagarin – one of the favorite places of the townspeople. At the intersection with Karl Marx Street, where there is a monument to Alexander III, there is a pedestrian bridge to the picturesque island of Yunost. Here you can rent bicycles and scooters, and go ice skating in winter. Another feature of the island is the 3.25-kilometer East Siberian Children’s Railway, where the whole family can ride a miniature train, run by schoolchildren under the guidance of instructors.
The last section – the Lower Embankment – the cradle of Irkutsk. It was on this coast that a detachment of Cossacks arrived in the 16th century, together with their leader Yakov Pahabov, a monument to the “Pioneers” reminds of this. Nearby you can see the first stone building of the city – the Church of the Savior, as well as the Cathedral of the Epiphany and the Moscow Triumphal Gates restored in a new place. A little closer to the main square of the city – the square named after Kirov – Eternal Flame and the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which houses the organ hall of the Philharmonic.
Irkutsk Museum of the Decembrists and the House of Europe
You can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a noble estate in the Irkutsk Museum of the Decembrists. Two wooden mansions of the museum complex of princes Sergei Trubetskoy and Sergei Volkonsky are located a block from each other. In each of them, in historical interiors, authentic items of the Decembrists are presented. Including the world’s only functioning pyramidal piano of the late 18th century, which belonged to Maria Volkonskaya.
The Volkonsky estate is located next to the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and the author’s theater-studio “Pilgrims” by Vladimir Sokolov. On the other side of the quarter there is another of the visiting cards of Irkutsk – Shastin’s Estate, better known as the Lace House. The monument of wooden architecture looks very elegant thanks to the white wood carving, which effectively contrasts with the dark wood of the facade. The mansion is part of the “House of Europe” complex, on the territory of which there are architectural monuments, which include a cafe, a hotel and the Museum of Urban Life.
Address of the Volkonsky estate: per. Volkonskogo, 10
Working hours: Tue – Sun 10:00 – 18:00, Monday is a day off, the last Tuesday of the month is a cleaning day. **
Address of the Trubetskoy estate: st. Dzerzhinsky, 64
Working hours: Wed – Mon 10:00 – 18:00, Tuesday – closed, The last Monday of the month is a cleaning day. **
Cost of visit: 200 rubles
V. Bronstein Gallery
The Gallery of Contemporary Art, founded by collector Viktor Bronstein, is a complex with three exhibition halls, a souvenir shop with original works of art and a restaurant on an area of 1,300 square meters. After getting acquainted with the works of artists, you can have a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, have a snack or a full meal at the BarDo Enoteca – with a unique opportunity to see through the glass wall the monumental works of the world famous sculptor Dashi Namdakov. By the way, this is the only permanent exhibition of his works in the world.
Enoteca BarDo itself has combined a wine bar, a gastronomic restaurant and a lounge. The menu contains mainly local products – Baikal fish, veal from farms, pine nuts, prepared in line with gastronomic trends.
Address: October Revolution, 3
Cost of visit: 150 rubles – adults; students, pensioners – 100 rubles.
Working hours: daily 11:00 – 20:00 **
Karl Marx Street
The most beautiful street in Irkutsk is Karl Marx or, as it was called before the revolution, Bolshaya. It almost entirely consists of monuments of history and architecture, but not wooden, but stone. After all, most of these buildings were erected after the terrible fire of 1879, in which almost the entire city center burned out. The buildings are home to administrative and residential buildings, shops, educational institutions, clinics, restaurants, cafes, museums and theaters.
On the street there is a sculpture of a “tourist” looking at the roofs, because it is the second floors of buildings here that are decorated with the most interesting decor: small sculptures, flowerpots, voluminous stucco moldings. Also on Karl Marx there is a monument to Lenin and playwright Alexander Vampilov.
This street is also one of the two main streets in the city. Moreover, the most interesting objects are located closer to its intersection with the second central highway – Lenin Street. Among them are the former Russian-Asian Bank in the Art Nouveau style, the administration of the East Siberian Railway – a successful example of the Stalinist Empire style, the drama theater named after V. N.P. Okhlopkova in the style of classicism and the Irkutsk Museum of Local Lore, built in the spirit of a Moorish castle.
Irkutsk Museum of Local Lore or Moorish Castle
Photo: Ovchinnikova Irina / Shutterstock.com
In a building of rare beauty, which is also called the Moorish Castle, at the intersection of Karl Marx Street and Gagarin Boulevard, there is the history department of the Museum of Local Lore. Only a few such buildings have survived in Russia. The building looks like a small castle with four round red brick towers. An interesting archaeological monument, the so-called deer stone, is erected at the entrance.
The building itself was erected in 1883 for the museum of the East Siberian branch of the Russian Geographical Society, so it was here that Admiral Alexander Kolchak read his famous report on Toll’s expedition. Over the years, the museum has worked as a folklorist, explorer of the East Grigory Potanin, author of the novel “Sannikov Land” Vladimir Obruchev, discoverer of Neanderthal burials, academician Alexei Okladnikov, author of a method for restoring a person’s appearance from bone remains Mikhail Gerasimov. And today you can feel the spirit of historical discoveries by visiting exhibitions on archeology, ethnography and history of the 20th century.
Address: st. Karl Marx, 2
Page in the social network
Monument to Admiral Alexander Kolchak
Next to the Znamensky Monastery, in the park, there is a monument to the famous admiral and polar explorer Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak. This place was chosen for a reason: it was here on February 7, 1920 that Kolchak was shot, and his body was thrown into the ice-hole of the Angara.
“We must not allow a repetition of that misfortune, that’s why I made this monument. I urge you all to unite, precisely as a people, as citizens of one country, “- a message from the author of the monument, sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov to his descendants.
Location: on the right bank of the Angara at the entrance to the Znamensky Monastery
Photo: @sveta_kornblume / Instagram.com
The “Angara” icebreaker is a ship museum that is docked on the bank of the Irkutsk reservoir in the Solnechny microdistrict. It is the oldest surviving icebreaker in the world. It was manufactured in Newcastle (Great Britain) and launched on July 25, 1900 in Listvenichniy village. It was intended for laying a path in the ice for the Baikal ferry, which has not survived to this day. By the way, it was this icebreaker that allowed Russia to defend its Far Eastern territory during the Russo-Japanese War, because thanks to the ship it was possible to transfer the land army and supplies to the east of the country.
Now the icebreaker has an exposition about the history of navigation on Lake Baikal. During the excursion, you can inspect the entire ship and even go down to the engine room. There is a cafe next to the ship. In the summer, there is a beach where you can sunbathe, and if you wish, even swim. There are catamarans for rent. In winter, a skating rink and slides are open. The place is also popular with skiers.
Address: Marshal Zhukov Avenue 36A / 1
Page in the social network
The Circum-Baikal Railway was not accidentally called the “Golden Buckle of the Steel Belt of Russia”, because it connected the Trans-Siberian Railway, torn apart by Baikal. The object is considered a unique monument of engineering architecture and is on the waiting list for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. By the way, in terms of the number of works per 1 kilometer of track and the difficulty of their implementation, the road surpasses all constructed railways in the world. It is also rightfully considered the most beautiful of them, because it was laid among the rocks along a narrow strip of the Baikal coast.
You can still travel along it today. Rather, along its section 84 kilometers long. The Circum-Baikal Express departs from the railway station in Irkutsk.
From May to October there is an opportunity to see the Circum-Baikal Railway from Lake Baikal on the “Barguzin” motor ship. It departs from Irkutsk from the Raketa pier weekly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and in a day it passes along the Angara to the Circum-Baikal Railway and further to Cape Polovinny.
The cost of a ticket on the Circum-Baikal Express: from 3350 to 3800 rubles, depending on the season
The cost of a ticket on the “Barguzin” motor ship should be specified additionally by phone 8 (3952) 35-88 -60 and 8 (3952) 287-287.
Ticket offices are located at the address Solnechny, prospect Zhukova 98 B, Raketa station – from 10:00 to 19:00; and st. Tsesovskaya embankment 1, stop. Household, Rechnoy Vokzal – from 12:00 to 18:00.
Listvyanka is located 64 kilometers from Irkutsk. This is the closest place from Irkutsk where you can see Baikal.
At the entrance to the village is the Baikal Museum of the IRC SB RAS. In it you can not only see a seal and get to know the inhabitants of the lake, but also learn how the Baikal depression was formed millions of years ago, and even take a trip on a deep-water bathyscaphe. Another center of attraction for tourists is the Shaman-stone – a piece of rock that is visible on the surface of the water in the place where the Angara flows out of the lake. According to legend, Baikal wanted to give his daughter in marriage to a young warrior named Irkut, but Angara fell in love with another hero, Yenisei, and fled to him. Then the angry father threw a huge stone after her – the very rock.
In the village you can taste local fish delicacies in numerous cafes and restaurants, buy souvenirs in open areas and in shops. If you wish, you can spend the night in Listvyanka. The village has hotels for every taste and budget: from wooden houses with a Russian bath to the fashionable Mayak hotel on the shore of Lake Baikal.
How to get there: by bus from the bus station (11 October Revolution St.) at 07:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:30, 16:00, 18:30. From Listvyanka at 09:00, 11:00, 14:00, 16:45, 18:00, 20:00. Office hours: from 06:45 to 19:15. The fare is 90 rubles.
Minibuses to Listvyanka leave from the parking lot at the corner of Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsii and Timiryazeva streets (near the bus station) and from the parking lot at the central market. Departure time for filling, from 8 am to 8 pm. The fare is 120 rubles.
Architectural and Ethnographic Museum “Taltsy”
Photo: @ siggi12384 / @ umib0zu
One of the few open-air historical complexes in Russia, the Taltsy architectural and ethnographic museum, is located 47 kilometers from Irkutsk on the way to Listvyanka. On an area of 67 hectares in the picturesque Taltsin tract on the banks of the Angara, you can see unique monuments of the 17th-19th centuries. The basis of the museum’s exposition is wooden buildings of small towns and villages of the Irkutsk region, caught in the flooding zone of the cascade of hydroelectric power stations on the Angara.
Currently, there are over 40 architectural monuments and over 8 thousand exhibits on the territory of the museum. The complex has four historical and cultural zones: Russian old-timers, Buryat, Evenk and Tofalar. But perhaps the most unique object is the Ilimsky prison, the only wooden fortress in the world that has survived to this day.
The central place is occupied by the Spasskaya Tower – the symbol of the museum. In addition to the tower inside the fortress, there are the Kazan Church, three fortress towers, a gostiny dvor, an order and guard hut and a salt barn. Some of the buildings are being restored.
In “Taltsy” you can not only see interesting architectural structures, but also try your hand at blacksmithing and pottery, buy authentic souvenirs and taste Russian cuisine.
Museum website: talci-irkutsk.ru
Working hours: daily (March-October) 10:00 – 18:00, (November-February) 10:00 – 17:00 **
Cost of admission: 250 rubles – adults; children, students, pensioners – 100 rubles.
* Prices for travel and accommodation are indicated at the time of writing. The cost indicated in the material and the final price may differ depending on the season and the time for which tickets are purchased.
** The operating hours of the organizations are indicated at the time of publication of the text. Opening hours may vary depending on the season.
Text author: Elena Orlova
Preview photo: @nickolai_tarkhanov