Travel to the Bustling City of Irkutsk

The city of Irkutsk is situated among scenic hills and rivers within the thick taiga which is typical of eastern Siberia, Russia. Irkutsk is the administrative centre of Irkutsk Oblast and is one of the largest cities in Siberia, having a population of approximately 600,000. There are plans to link Irkutsk city with the industrial towns of Shelekhov and Angarsk in order to form a metropolitan area with a population exceeding one million.

The center of Irkutsk lies on the bank of the Angara River which flows from beautiful Lake Baikal. This river can be crossed by a bridge to the suburb of Glaskovsk. The small river of Irkut, from which the town takes its name, joins the Angara River directly opposite the town. The Ushakovka River divides the city of Irkutsk from some of its suburbs as well as well-known landmarks.

Not far from Lake Baikal, down the Angara River, a Cossak detachment led by Yakov Pokhabov founded a log fort in 1661 and this became the heart of the city of Irkutsk. It was at this time that areas of Siberia were being developed by Russia. Many people from different backgrounds flocked to the area in search of legendary treasures. The result was that over a thousand people were living in Irkutsk by the end of the 17th century. These were made up mainly of Cossacks, tradesmen, soldiers, peasants, minor officials and many who had been given life sentences in Siberia.

Irkutsk has a troubled history with wars and revolutions, as well as earthquakes and fires leaving their mark on the city. However, there are many landmarks, such as the Cathedral of Epiphany and Church of the Savior, which have survived and bear testimony a unique historical heritage. There are areas of the city where beautifully preserved wooden buildings dominate the architecture. Handcrafted wooden decorative edgings grace many of the houses and sightseeing along the older streets of Itkutsk gives visitors a unique view of the culture of the ancient Slavs. There are also many cultural and historical museums to explore.

During the Soviet era, Irkutsk developed into an important industrial centre and has continued to thrive economically. Today Irkutsk, with its 36 colleges and learning institutes and nine vocational schools, is home to tens of thousands of students. The East-Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Science has research facilities based in Irkutsk. There are five theatres, 15 cinemas and 34 libraries in this busy city.

Visitors to the city of Irkutsk in Russia will certainly find much to enjoy as they explore the ancient and modern wonders of this unique city and its surroundings.


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