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RUSSIA - SIBERIA - IRKUTSK

IRKUTSK:

The city of Irkutsk, with attractive embankments along the river and many surviving wooden houses on its tree-lined streets, is an administrative and cultural centre for Eastern Siberia and of the Russian Far East. Irkutsk State University (1918) and the Siberian branch of the Academy of Sciences are among the city’s many teaching and research institutes.
Irkutsk has taken on several roles in its nearly 350 years of existence, including expedition base for explorations of Siberia, city of exiles, and gold rush town, just to name a few. The city’s nicknames include the Capital of Siberia, the Pearl of Siberia, and even Paris of Siberia.


Location:

Irkutsk is located 60km East of the world famous Lake Baikal. It is administrative centre of Irkutsk oblast (province) in the east-central Russia. The city lies along the Angara River at its confluence with the Irkut River.

Local Time: Moscow time + 5 hrs
Brief History:

1652 - Irkutsk grew out of the winter quarters established by Yakov Pokhabov for gold-trading and for the collection of the fur tax from the Buryats.
1686 – The town gained official city rights from the government.
1760 – The first road connection between Moscow and Irkutsk, the Siberian Road was built.The city benefited economically from this new road. Many new products, often imported from China, were widely available in Irkutsk for the first time, including gold, diamonds, furs, wood, silk, and tea.
In the early 19th century, many Russian artists, officers, and nobles were sent into exile to Siberia for their part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. Irkutsk became the major centre of intellectual and social life for these exiles, and much of the city's cultural heritage comes from them; many of their wooden houses, adorned with ornate, hand-carved decorations, survive today in stark contrast with the standard Soviet apartment blocks that surround them.
16 August, 1898 –  The first train arrived in Irkutsk.

Attractions & Highlights:

Irkutsk is home to a remarkable number of historic churches, among them Ascension Church (1747-51), Epiphany Cathedral (1718-46), Our Lady of Kazan Church (1885-92), and Saviour Church (1706-13).
There are also a few historical museums in the houses of Decembrist exiles.
Visit Lake Baikal, the perl of Siberia, which is about an hour outside of Irkutsk depending on weather conditions. It is the deepest and one of the purest lakes in the World.

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Getting There:

By Air: Irkutsk can be reached from either of the two major airports in Moscow, Domodedovo or Sheremetyevo 1.
By Train: Most travelers arrive in Irkutsk by the Trans-Siberian Railway. It's about halfway between Moscow and Vladivostok in the east, which makes it a good place to break the trip.The Baikal-Amur Mainline also runs nearby.

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