Explore the History of Tomsk

The city of Tomsk, situated on the Tom River, is the administrative centre of the Tomsk Oblast, Russia. This historical city celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2004, making it one of the oldest cities in Siberia. Tomsk was established in 1604 in compliance with a decree from Tsar Boris Godunov. Two hundred Cossacks were sent, under the command of Vasiliy Tyrkov and Gavriil Pisemsky, to construct a fortress on the banks of the Tom River overlooking what has become the city of Tomsk.

In 1804, Tomsk was selected to become the hub of a new governorate. In 1830 gold was discovered in the area and this resulted in significant development of the city during the 19th century. At this time it was estimated that one-fifth of the city’s residents were exiles. This changed, however, when the Tomsk Polytechnic University and Tomsk State University were established and by the 1930s every twelfth resident of the city was a student. During World War II many factories were relocated to Tomsk as a protection from Nazi invasion and the Soviet government established Tomsk Oblast with the city of Tomsk as the administrative centre.

Many of the older houses in Tomsk are fairly simple in design, constructed from wood and decorated in pictures carved from wood, reminiscent of a fairytale house set in the forest, lending the suburbs a quaint appeal. The numerous universities give the city a serious, learned tone and the interesting Russian museums give a glimpse into a long, at times troubled, history, as well as the culture of the people of the area.

Places of interest to visit include the Art Museum, as well as the Tomsk Regional Museum which gives in-depth insight on the Siberian people, from a historical and cultural viewpoint. The KGB Memorial Museum, located in the original Tomsk KGB Headquarters, is the only one of its kind in Russia. It details the Communist years and the concentration and labor camps that existed in the Tomsk region. The prisoner holding cells contain numerous stories of bravery and survival through those dark days.

In close proximity to beautiful pine forests, the lovely city of Tomsk has a quiet dignity about it. Visitors will enjoy the hospitality of the local people as they explore this interesting Russian city.


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