Irkutsk is a fascinating place to stop during any trip to Russia; traveling the Trans Siberian Railway is a superb way to experience this vast country and this is one of the host of interesting stops along the route. As an important industrial district and trading post, this city became known as the Paris of Siberia and is one of the largest in the region, following Novosibirsk. A vacation in Irkutsk, however long or short, can prove to be an enlightening insight to a lesser-known part of Russian history and a chance to see the beautiful scenery of Siberia. Today, Irkutsk tours are offered through several operators and packages; visitors can also take a very pleasant self-guided tour with a map and their own two feet.
Established In 1652, Irkutsk Russia was originally a trading post for gold and other valuables; it became an official city in 1686. The Siberian Road, built in the later half of the 1700s, proved beneficial to the growth of the town, as it was then connected to the hub of Russia, Moscow, more than 3,200 miles away. Costly goods passed through Irkutsk, including gold, fur, diamonds, silk, and the all-coveted tea before reaching other parts of Russia, presenting an opportunity for even more growth. In December of 1825, Nicholas I assumed the throne of Russia; however, over three thousand officers and nobles marched on the Senate Square, refusing to swear allegiance, and as a result he ordered an attack on the rebels, killing many and arresting the survivors. Following an interrogation, many nobles, artists, and military officers who supported the revolt in some way or another were exiled to Irkutsk, giving rise to the rich cultural heritage still found in the architecture and people today.
Because of the architecture and culture of the city, Irkutsk has come to be known as the Paris of Siberia. Irkutsk travel will no doubt include a unique variety of architecture that dates back to the exile of the revolutionary advocates, whose wooden homes that still stand today reflect the care and attention with which they lived. Visitors who plan Irkutsk travel will find a number of museums and attractions that commemorate and offer travelers an insight to the less seen part of Russian history. Though many of the citizens were living in exile, they never failed to make their living situations into something beautiful, even down to the hand-carved details on their homes. Today, several Irkutsk tours offer a variety of packages from a tour of Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world, to a trip through a wooden village presenting the lifestyle and architecture of ancient villages in Russia. Other tours include guided walking tours and tours of the city by car.
Other attractions for those planning a vacation in Irkutsk include museums, historical buildings, memorials, and Lake Baikal, which is located about twenty miles outside of town and is also the world’s oldest lake. The museums of Irkutsk Russia include the Regional Studies Museum, featuring the first Russian observatory; the Fine Arts Museum, established in the late nineteenth century with more than 14,000 exhibits today; and the Decembrists’ Memorial Complex, commemorating the revolutionaries. The Palace of Youth in Labor Square, which once belonged to the richest merchant in Irkutsk, is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Several popular streets to traverse include Yuri Gagarin Boulevard, Lenin Street, and Karl Marx Street; these routes feature fine architecture, theaters, museums, and shops.
Irkutsk travel experiences offer a variety of natural and historical sights and attractions, and while Irkutsk hotels are not the most numerous in Russia, there are still multiple options for places to stay during a trip here. Whether you visit this major city in Siberia on one of the tours or as a railway stop en route to Vladivostok, your vacation in Irkutsk is sure to be a fascinating one and will leave you with pleasant and unique memories of the Paris of Siberia.