Omsk - A Treasure Trove of Attractions
The city of Omsk, situated at the confluence of the Om and Irtysh Rivers in south-western Siberia, is the administrative center of Omsk Oblast. This Russian city is a key industrial and commercial center in the steppe region. Products produced or processed in Omsk include grain, timber products, refined petroleum, agricultural machinery and textiles. The city is served by the Trans-Siberian Railroad and is the cross-junction of highways for the central area of the Russian Federation. The Ob and Irtysh Rivers provide a transport channel from coal and mineral mining towns in Kazakhstan, as well as timber and oil from northern Siberia. The Omsk airport accommodates domestic and international flights, making the city a vital link to Siberia and the Far East.
In 1716, the wooden fort of Omsk was erected as a protection for the expanding Russian frontier, and in the late 1700s brick buildings were constructed. Some of these buildings still stand today, including the Tara gates, an armory, a military jail, commandant’s house and the original German Lutheran Church. In the 1880s and early 1900s, Omsk served as the administrative center of Western Siberia and the Steppes, but as the frontier receded and along with it the need of a strong military force, the town of Omsk lost some of its importance.
In the 1890s, with the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway, Omsk started to become a busy and essential commercial centre. Numerous trade companies opened offices and stores in the city and foreign powers, including Dutch, German and British, established consulates to represent their commercial interests in the area. In 1910 Omsk hosted the Siberian Exposition of Agriculture and Industry in a lavish new complex of buildings, complete with fountains, which were constructed specifically for the purpose of the exposition. The success of the exposition confirmed the importance of the city as a major commercial center.
For a time after the 1917 revolution, Omsk was proclaimed the 'Capital of Russia' and the central bank kept the closely guarded Imperial gold reserves. During the Soviet era this changed when Novosibirsk became the designated center of Western Siberia. During and after World War II a number of industries were evacuated from Russia’s western front and established at Omsk, giving the city a much needed boost.
Today the city of Omsk is an interesting place to visit with beautiful examples of ancient architecture mostly in the heart of the city, including a drama theater dating from the early 1900s. There are a number of ancient churches to be seen, with possibly the most opulent being the Dormition Cathedral. Stately mansions dating back to late 1800s and early 1900s line the side streets of the city and merchants’ ancient wooden houses still stand. The main museums are the State Historical Museum and Omsk Vrubel Art Gallery, both giving insight into the culture and history of the area.
Visitors to Omsk will spend many enjoyable hours taking in the sights and sounds, history and culture of this interesting Russian city.