Irkutsk is the largest city in Baikal region, the sixth largest city in Siberia. The population of Irkutsk is about 650 thousand people. Irkutsk was founded in 1661 by Yakov Pokhabov.
For a long time Irkutsk was considered as a merchant city, as it had been prospering for a long time due to trade with China and gold mining. In addition, Irkutsk was a place for political prison (the most famous example is the Decembrists). Despite the fact that trade with China is still at a high level, 80% of people work in a service sector, machine building and food products are also developed. As for the political prisons in Irkutsk, they closed in the 20th century, and today people come to Irkutsk only by their own will 🙂
There are 107 institutions of culture and art work in Irkutsk. The historical center of the city (wooden houses, churches, cathedrals, stone buildings, embankments, monuments) is under protection of UNESCO. Also Irkutsk is famous for its dramatic theater named after Vampilov, the musical theater of Zagursky, Philharmonic, organ hall, museums, libraries of the XVIII century.
In 2011 the project “130 District” or “Irkutsk Sloboda” – reconstruction of buildings of the XVII-XIX centuries was completed. Now “130 District” is a landmark quarter with beautiful historical estates, museums, restaurants and shops. Today citizens of Irkutsk can eat (I’m not afraid of this word) in the estate of the XII century.
In Irkutsk, like in our vast country, there are many nations and small nationalities; Russians, Buryats, Ukrainians, Azeris, Tatars, Kirghiz, Armenians, Jews, Tuvans, etc.
Moreover, your humble servant, the author of this article, is a Buryat, the son of Genghis Khan from Mongolian tribe 🙂
Historically, Irkutsk was built on Buryat land, so in Irkutsk there are a lot of eastern notes in architecture, clothes, cuisine, etc. Even the name of Irkutsk is formed from the Buryat word “Erhuu”. Moreover there is Buddist Temple (Namzhal Chojdublin) In Irkutsk. Also national Buryat cuisine is well represented in Irkutsk. There are many restaurants, cafes, where you can taste famous Buzzy and other Buryat dishes.
As everyone has probably already understood, tourism in Irkutsk is well developed only thanks to Lake Baikal, because Baikal is a world heritage and probably every person dreams to visit it. In summer, you can meet tourists everywhere, especially Chinese. But in winter touristic flow is reduced in times and Baikal becomes quiet and peaceful, because only a true connoisseur of Baikal is ready to come here in winter. However, many tourism participants together with a government of Irkutsk and Irkutsk region don’t agree with it, so they organize various festivals, sports competitions and, in general, interesting projects in Baikal in winter. For example, at the end of February, when the ice on Lake Baikal is already about 1 meter, Zimniada is held – international Baikal Winter Games Festival, musical concerts on the ice of Lake Baikal, festivals of fishing, ice figures exhibitions, etc.