A little bit of statistics
Area: 277 km2 (107 sq mi)
Population (2010 Census): 587.891 inhabitants
Time zone: IRKT (UTC +08:00)
Postal code: (S) 664XXX
Diling code: (S) +73952
Flag symbol: Coat of arms
City day: First Sunday of June
Details of history
Irkutsk Castle in 1735
In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovyo (winter quarters) near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov built an ostrog nearby.The ostrog gained official town rights from the government in 1686. The first road connection between Moscow and Irkutsk, the Siberian Road, was built in 1760, and benefited the town economy. Many new products, often imported from China via Kyakhta, became widely available in Irkutsk for the first time, including gold, diamonds, fur, wood, silk, and tea. In 1821, as part of the Speransky reforms, Siberia was administratively divided at the Yenisei River and Irkutsk became the seat of the Governor-General of East Siberia.
Irkutsk Assembly of the Nobility in the early 1900s
In the early 19th century, many Russian artists, officers, and nobles were sent into exile in Siberia for their part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. Irkutsk became the major center 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.
Epiphany Cathedral and central Irkutsk in 1865
By the end of the 19th century, there was one exiled man for every two locals. People of varying backgrounds, from members of the Decembrist uprising to Bolsheviks, have been in Irkutsk for many years and have greatly influenced the culture and development of the city. As a result, Irkutsk eventually became a prosperous cultural and educational center in Eastern Siberia.
In 1879, on July 4 and 6, the palace of the (then) Governor General, the principal administrative and municipal offices and many of the other public buildings were destroyed by fire, and the government archives, the library and the museum of the Siberian section of the Russian Geographical Society were completely ruined. Three-quarters of the city was destroyed, including approximately 4,000 houses. However, the city quickly rebounded, with electricity arriving in 1896, the first theater being built in 1897 and a major train station opened in 1898. The first train arrived in Irkutsk on August 16 of that year. By 1900, the city had earned the nickname of "The Paris of Siberia."
Irkutsk in 1918
During the Russian Civil War, which broke out after the October Revolution, Irkutsk became the site of many furious, bloody clashes between the "Whites" and the "Reds". In 1920, Aleksandr Kolchak, the once-feared commander of the largest contingent of anti-Bolshevik forces, was executed in Irkutsk, which effectively destroyed the anti-Bolshevik resistance.
Irkutsk was the administrative center of the short-lived East Siberian Oblast, which existed from 1936 to 1937. The city subsequently became the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast after East Siberian Oblast was divided into Chita Oblast and Irkutsk Oblast.
During the Communist years, the industrialization of Irkutsk and Siberia in general was heavily encouraged. The large Irkutsk Reservoir was built on the Angara River between 1950 and 1959 in order to facilitate industrial development.
The city proper lies on the Angara River, a tributary of the Yenisei, 72 kilometers (45 mi) below its outflow from and on the bank opposite the suburb of Glaskovsk. The river, 580-meter (1,900 ft) wide, is crossed by the Irkutsk Hydroelectric Dam and three other bridges downstream.
The Irkut River, from which the town takes its name, is a smaller river that joins the Angara directly opposite the city. The main portion of the city is separated from several landmarks—the monastery, the fort and the port, as well as its suburbs—by another tributary, the Ida (or Ushakovka) River. The two main parts of Irkutsk are customarily referred to as the "left bank" and the "right bank", with respect to the flow of the Angara River.
Irkutsk is situated in a landscape of rolling hills within the thick taiga that is typical in Eastern Siberia.
According to the regional plan, Irkutsk city will be combined with its neighboring industrial towns of Shelekhov and Angarsk to form a metropolitan area with a total population of over a million.
Irkutsk originally had a borderline Subarctic climate. Since 2000, the temperatures have resembled a humid continental climate. Snow cover disappeared earlier, from late April in the 1930s to late March in the 1980s. Discontinuous permafrost depth had decreased from 200 m to 100 m during the same period.
Irkutsk is characterized by an extreme variation of temperatures between seasons. It can be very warm in the summer, and very cold in the winter. However, Lake Baikal has its effect, such that temperatures in Irkutsk are not as extreme as elsewhere in Siberia. The warmest month of the year in Irkutsk is July, when the average temperature is +18 °C (64 °F), the highest temperature recorded being +37.2 °C (99.0 °F).
The coldest month of the year is January, when the average temperature is −18 °C (0 °F), and record low of −49.7 °C (−57.5 °F). Precipitation also varies widely throughout the year, with July also being the wettest month, when precipitation averages 113 millimeters (4.4 in). The driest month is February, when precipitation averages only 7.6 millimeters (0.30 in). Almost all precipitation during the Siberian winter falls as fluffy, low moisture content snow.
Television and mass media
There are many state-owned and privately owned television stations in Irkutsk, including state company IGTRK and private ones, such as AS Baikal TV, TV company AIST, TV company Gorod, and also other media outlets, like the VSP Newspaper Agency.There is also a live webcam broadcasting from the city center.
Irkutsk has long been home to the well-known Russian writer Valentin Rasputin; many of his novels and stories take place in the Angara Valley. An essay on the cultural history of Irkutsk (and another one about the nearby Lake Baikal) is included in Rasputin's non-fiction collection Siberia Siberia, which is also available in an English translation.
One more famous writer is Alexander Valentinovich Vampilov. Vampilov was born 19 August 1937 in Cheremkhovo, Irkutsk Oblast and died 17 August 1972 at Lake Baikal. He was a well known Russian playwright. His play Elder Son was first performed in 1969, and became a national success two years later. Many of his plays have been filmed or televised in Russia. His four full-length plays were translated into English and Duck Hunting was performed in London and Washington DC (Arena Stage).
Bandy is a very big sport in the city. There are several clubs, most notably Baykal – Energiya of the Russian Bandy Super League, which can draw spectator crowds of 30,000. The final of Russian Bandy Super League 2016 will be played at Rekord Stadium.
ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENTS, MEMORIALS AND SCULPTURES
Spasskaya church was the first stone church in Irkutsk. It was built in 1710 and it replaced the old wooden church which appeared at the same time with the Irkutsk ostrog. Spasskaya church determines historical city center. In 1948 it was announced architectural monuments and became listed building.
FIRST DISCOVERERS MONUMENT
The monument represents generalized character of the first Siberian discoverers.Monumental inscription says: " 1661 to the first Irkutsk discoverers from citizens2011". The monument was established September14th 2011 in honor of 350 years Irkutsk anniversary. Sculptor is Mikhail Pereyaslavets.
Size – 6m. Weight – 5 tons.
On the "wooden" Irkutsk streets you can see preserved wooden houses decorated with various carvings. These houses – a visit card and pride of Irkutsk. One of the most beautiful wooden houses is "Lace House" (House of Europe) on the Friedrich Engels street. Wooden houses with carvings can be also seen at the folowing streets: Dekabrskikh Sobytiy st., Babushkina st., Karl Liebknecht st., Volodarskogo st., Khalturina st., Bogdan Khmelnytsky st., Gryaznova st., Lapin st., Timiryazeva st., Marata st.
KARL MARX STREET
Karl Marx Street (earlier Bolshaya street (Big street)) is the main street of Irkutsk. This is one of the oldest streets in the city. It has old stone houses of the XIX century, shops, banks, restaurants, theaters, monuments, as well as the White House, the National History Museum and its departments of nature and history, a branch of the Art Museum, Officers House, Drama Theatre and other sightseeings. Karl Marx street is a part of the Green Line, special pedestrian touristic route: if you follow it, you will see most of sightseeings in Irkutsk.
The museum records its history since December 29th, 1970, although the museum's collection began to take shape in 1925. For 30 years, the museum has been a Department of Irkutsk Regional museum. In 2000, the museum acquired the status of an independent state cultural institution "Irkutsk Regional Historical and Memorial Museum of the Decembrists".
LOWER RIVER EMBANKMENT
You can take a walk on the Lower River Embankment from the monument to Jakov Pokhabov (Cossack leader who founded Irkutsk) to Moscow gates, which is a start point for the boat excursion. Near the Lower River Embnkment there are located the Epiphany Cathedral, the Church of the Saviour, Polish Roman-Catholic Church, a chapel, as well as the eternal flame and memorial "Irkutsk people during the Great Patriotic War".
UPPER RIVER EMBANKMENT
You can take a walk on the Upper River Embankment, see the monument to Alexander III, the White House – the former residence of the Governor-General, visit the museum. Across the bridge, you can go to the island of Youth and the island of Horse, where there is the Children's Railway.
On the territory of what is now the 130th District Irkutsk people began to build houses in the early XVIII century. At that time, the land was out of Irkutsk and developed by rural type. All the buildings were made of wood, the area remained unimproved, so by the beginning of the XX century houses among the stone buildings adjacent areas consist of small villages than monuments. In 2008, for the 350th anniversary of Irkutsk it was decided on the basis of the 130th District to create a special historical area. The project to create the Irkutsk Sloboda (the modern name of the quarter) was approved at the level of the regional government. In late March 2010 began the resettlement of residents of old and dilapidated houses, rapidly underwent restoration of cultural heritage quarter and construction lost monuments. In September 2011 – in the anniversary of Irkutsk – Sloboda took its first guests. At the site of the old barracks of poorly with sloppy brownfield sites in the center of the capital appeared Priangarye noteworthy quarter with neat cobblestone promenade, beautiful historic mansions, museums, restaurants and infrastructure.A monument to the Babr is located exactly in the beginning of 130th District (a Siberian tiger on coat of arms of Irkutsk).
Ice-breaker "Angara" was launched on July 25, 1900 in the Listvyanka village, where it was delivered unassembled from Newcastle, where the icebreaker was made on the stocks of shipyards "Sir V.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co". The customer of the vessel was the Committee on the construction of the Siberian railway, which had acquired by "Armstrong" a steam-powered icebreaker "Baikal" two years earlier. Both ships were intended to provide ferry trains across Baikal, as a temporary measure before the construction of the railway around the lake. Icebreaker "Angara" was intended for the construction of the path on the ice for the ferry "Baikal", which could not overcome safely the load for ice thickness bigger than 70 cm. Before the construction of the Circum-Baikal Railway in 1906, "Angara" with "Baikal" made regular trips across Lake Baikal. After that, due to lack of funds for the maintenance of two icebreakers, the vessel was placed on conservation and for ten years was not operating.