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Visit the Theaters and Museums of Irkutsk

As one of the largest cities in Siberia, Irkutsk is a vital economic hub in the region, as well as being an important cultural center with a host of museums and theaters for both locals and visitors to enjoy. Much of the culture of Irkutsk goes back to the early 19th century when a large number of Russian officers, nobles, writers and artists were banished to Siberia for rising up against Tsar Nicholas I. Even the architecture in the city stands as a testament to this period in its history, with ornately decorated wooden houses contrasting with Soviet-era apartment blocks. While it may not be as evident today, back then Irkutsk was even referred to as the "Paris of Siberia" due to its rich and vibrant culture.

The open-air Taltsy Museum, located south of Irkutsk, features a host of old wooden buildings which were dismantled prior to the flooding of the Angara valley for the Ust-Ilimsk Dam and Bratsk Dam, and re-assembled at the museum. One of the highlights of the Taltsy Museum is a 17th century fortress from Ilimsk, complete with a tower and the Church of Our Lady of Kazan.

The City History Museum displays the history of Irkutsk from the founding of the city through to the present day, while the Geology Museum at the Irkutsk State Polytechnical University features minerals and gems found in the region. Exhibits on the various ethnic groups in Siberia can be viewed at the Irkutsk Regional Museum, and the Sukachev Art Museum features the Siberian region’s most extensive collection of fine art, including Russian art from the 18th to 20th centuries, historic icons, and some Chinese and Mongolian art. The 19th century Sukachev Estate was the home of the mayor of Irkutsk and reveals the standard of life enjoyed by the upper classes back then. A museum with a difference is the ice-breaker Angara, which is docked at the Irkutsk port. Built in Newcastle, United Kingdom, in 1900, the ice-breaker is one of the oldest in the world.

The city is home to a number of theaters, including one of the oldest in Russia, the Okhlopkov Drama Theater. Other theaters in Irkutsk are the Irkutsk Academic Drama Theater and the Zagursky Musical Theater. Certainly, the city of Irkutsk is a treasure-trove of culture in Siberia.


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