Irkutsk “The Paris of Siberia”
Time zone: Moscow +5 hr
Population: about 600 000 people
Average t°: -16,2°C (winter), +16,1°C (summer)
Phone code: + 7 3952
Public transport: 10-12 RUB
Taxi: min. 150 RUB, 20 RUB per km
Train station infoservice: 39-47-47
Airport infoservice: 266-277
Bus station infoservice: 20-94-11
Harbour “Raketa” (ships): 35-88-60
Tourist Information center (Ü Phridrikha Engelsa str., 21 ) 20-50-18 ¾ 9-00 – 20-00, 9-00 – 18-00 on Sat and Sun).
Post office (Ü Stepana Razina str., 23 ¾ 8-00 – 20-00).
Currency exchange – any branch of “Sberbank” (main Russian bank or any other).
Znamensky monastery (Знаменский монастырь Ü Angarskaya str., 10). Build in 1689, this is silent and the only female monastery in Siberia. Also the Admiral Kolchak, famous Russian general’s monument is located there. From 1920 to 1990 it was closed. On August 27, 1994 it was reopened.
The Raising of the Cross Church (Крестовоздвиженская церковь Ü Sedova str., 1). The church is located right in the center of Irkutsk. It has very original decoration, which has traditional Christian and ethnic ornaments on its walls due to high influence of Mongolians.
Volkonsky Museum House (Дом-музей Волконского Ü Volkonskogo str., 10 ) 207-532, 536-258¾ 10-00 – 19-00). Very beautiful museum consists of several wooden buildings. The municipal tourist information center is located there. You will see the history of the Decembrists and their life.
Sukhachev’sArtMuseum (Художественный Музей им. Сукачева Ü Lenina, 5 ) ¾ 10-00 – 19-00, closed on Tue, R100). According to several guide books, this is considered as the best museum in Siberia. It has paintings of famous Russian artist Repin, a section of Mongolian and Chinese art, and a section of European art including a collection of less famous Dutch masters.
The most interesting sights
Nerpinary (Baikal Seal Show Ü 2-ya Zheleznodorozhnaya str., 66 ) 55-44-32 ¾ 14-00 – 19-00, Thu-Sun). If you will not visit Listvyanka, this is good place to go to see these cute animals. Despite of animal protectors’ claims, these seals were lost from its pack and saved by the scientists.
Sukhachev’s House (Усадьба Сукачева ÜDekabrskikh sobitiy str., 112 )291-088, 531-216 ¾ 10-00 – 19-00 RUB200(or 300 w/tour)). Interesting museum, dedicated to life of famous Russian Maecenas.
Regional Museum (Краеведческий музей Ü Karla Marksa str., 2 ) 333-449 ¾ 10-00 – 19-00). Small museum of city history.
Traditional wooden houses. Irkutsk is one of very few cities that saved old wooden buildings in the city center. Unfortunately, many of them are in very bad condition, silently asking for repair. But still they give to Irkutsk charming feeling of the end of XIX century. See Babushkina , Engelsa and Kievskaya streets. You can find several houses with one floor at the side to main street and two floors at side to the yard, which was done in order to cut taxes (Timiryazeva str., 45).
Angara ice-breaker (ÜGES ) ¾ Mon-Sun 9-00 – 20-00, R150). One of the oldest ice-breakers in the world. Now it has good museum inside.
Organ Hall (former (Polish) Roman Catholic church Ü Sukhe-Batora str., 1 ) 33-63-65 ¾ 9-00 – 20-00). The only gothic building in Irkutsk, rebuilt in 1884 after big fire of 1879, destroyed a half of wooden town. It still has mess on Sundays.
Vampilov monument (Ü Karla Marksa str., 14). The monument of famous Siberian writer, whose plays are now set in many Russian theathers. If you will hold its thumb on the right hand, you will get good luck :)
Irkutsk Academic Drama Theatre named N.P.Okhlopkov (Драмтеатр Ü Karla Marksa str., 14 ) 200-477,200-478). Finished in 1897, the building itself was a gem of city landscape. Newly reconstructed, this is the oldest theather in Siberia. It has beautiful external and internal interior.
Eternal flame (Вечный Огонь Ü Lower Embankment). The monument with flame in its heart, dedicated to World War II.
Church of Saviour (Спасская церковьÜ Lower Embankment ¾ 8-00 – 20-00) and Bogoyavlenskiy cathedral. The only saved church from the center of Irkutsk ostrog (old kremlin) and the oldest churches in East Siberia and Far East. Spasskaya church has unique collection of bells.
Trinity Church (Троицкий храмÜ 5 Army str., 8). Restorated in 2010, famous as the church where Siberian admiral Kolchak was married in 1904.
Kazansky Church (Казанская церковь Ü Barrikad str., 32) One of unusual and beautiful churches, restorated relatively recently.
Karla Marksa str. The main street of Irkutsk has many beautiful buildings, and many of them have night illumination.
Building of the city clinic (Ü crossing of Lenina and Karla Marksa str.) This is good example of so called Siberian baroque.
Stalin bás-relief on the building of East-Siberian Russian Railways Headquarters (Ü Karla Marksa str, 7). This is the only Stalin bás-relief, saved for today.
Walking tour recommendations
Usually one day is enough to see all interesting sights in Irkutsk, walking by yourself or with guide, and one more day could be spent in museums.
We recommend you to begin from Znamensky monastery, then take a bus 8 to Kirov square. Go to the river bank (Lower Embankment), and see how the Angara river flows away to the North. Visit Irkutsk ostrog churches, than go to Raising of the Cross church by Lenina street. After that turn left and walk through area of traditional wooden houses. You can take a snack at the central market. Then take a tram #4 to Kazansky church.
Another day you can dedicate to Art Museum and Sukhachev House.
For those who wants to eat or drink something new, pay attention to:
- Omul – yummy-yummy Baikal whitefish. Try it fresh, salted, cold-smoked in Irkutsk, or hot-smoked in Listvyanka and Slyudyanka
- Zhivitsa (or “sera”) – unusual, seems to be the only natural brown chewing gum, made from trees sap
- Pozi – traditional Buryat meat pies, cooked on hot steam
- Zagudai – omul salad with pepper, onion and salt.
- “Kedroviy grillage” candies – candied roasted cedar nuts
- Sagaan-Dalya (Rhododendron adamsii Rehder) herb – with tea (1-2 leaves for teapot)
- If you want to try local beer, buy Bagira’s beer – ask in supermarket. If you want to try Soviet old-school beer, buy “Zhigulevskoe” (Жигулевское) or “Admiral Kolchak” (Адмирал Колчак).