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Irkutsk

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Irkutsk Oblast : Irkutsk
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Church colours, Irkutsk

Irkutsk [1] (Russian: Ирку́тск; eer-KOOTSK) is the capital of the Russian province of Irkutsk Oblast in Eastern Siberia.

Understand[edit]

In the early nineteenth 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; also, 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. The wide streets and ornate, continental architecture led to Irkutsk being called the "Paris of Siberia", although travellers are unlikely to have a difficult time distinguishing the two today.

During the civil war that broke out after the Bolshevik Revolution, Irkutsk became the site of many furious, bloody clashes between the "Whites" and the "Reds" (aka Bolsheviks), and a number of city landmarks remain from that era. In 1920, Kolchak, the once-feared commander of the largest contingent of anti-Bolshevik forces, was executed there, effectively destroying the anti-Bolshevik resistance.

Today, Irkutsk is one of the biggest cities in Siberia, with a growing population of more than 590,000 people. It's home to several universities and a major branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, thanks to its proximity to Lake Baikal.

Climate[edit]

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) -13.2 -8.4 -0.3 9.0 17.5 22.6 24.3 22.0 15.5 8.9 -2.8 -10.3
Nightly lows (°C) -22.4 -20.4 -13 -3.4 3.0 8.7 12.3 10.5 4.0 -3.2 -12 -19.2
Precipitation (mm) 12 8 12 18 33 71 116 89 53 24 20 16

Average of Irkutsk

In July, the average temperature is 18°C (64°F) with a bit of rain, but by January, the temperature plunges in typically Siberian fashion to -19°C (-2°F). Early September finds the local foliage at its finest.

Get in[edit]

Irkutsk train station
Train lines near Irkutsk and Lake Baikal (interactive map)

By plane[edit]

Irkutsk Airport (IATA: IKT) can be reached from either of the two major airports in Moscow, Domodedovo or Sheremetyevo 1. Rossiya Airlines also flies directly to Irkutsk from St. Petersburg and S7 Airlines uses Irkutsk as a regional hub, flying to several cities in Russia, as well as flights to China, South Korea, and elsewhere in Asia.

Arranging to be picked up at the airport prior to departure is recommended, since both flights get in early in the morning and English-speaking taxis are hard to find. If traveling in the winter bring warm clothing on the plane, as you will most likely deplane onto the tarmac.

The airport is located fairly close to the city center and buses, trams, and minibuses run frequently between the airport and Kirov Square (near the Angara Hotel) and other points in the historical center. Travel time from Kirov Square to the airport by bus during rush hour is about 30 minutes and costs between 10 and 20 Rubles.

By train[edit]

Wikitravel has a guide to the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Most travellers arrive in Irkutsk by the Trans-Siberian Railway. It's about halfway between Moscow and the two eastern terminus cities, Vladivostok and Beijing, which makes it a good place to break the trip, if only to stretch your legs and buy provisions. The Baikal-Amur Mainline, connecting with more northerly cities, also runs nearby.

Apart from Moscow there are also direct carriages from most cities in Russia, Minsk (94h) and from Saint Petersburg (86h) on the Baikal train. Also, a service from Warsaw (113h) was introduced in recently.

Get around[edit]

Irkutsk is a relatively compact city in the historical center and traffic congestion is not bad for a city of nearly 600,000. It is a very walkable city within the centre, and for those who want to save time or travel between one side of the river and the other, the public transit system is good. Knowing at least how to read the signs on the buses and bus stops is helpful, and on the minibuses, one must call out to the driver to request a stop. Oddly enough, the names of major bus stops are posted on kiosk roofs parallel to the road so that the names are not often visible from inside the bus. Bus and minibus ("marshrutka") fare is usually RUB12. Local etiquette is to pay the driver when exiting the bus and trolley (therefore you can exit it only through the front door). In trams tickets should be purchased from driver, then stamped in the machine on board.

Map of tram [2] and trolleybus [3] lines.

Tourist information[edit]

The tourist information office (very friendly and useful) is located in the Europe House, 21 F. Engels St, if you can find it open!

Bike rental[edit]

You can rent bikes at Skiwalker in the north-east of Irkutsk.

See[edit][add listing]

Transfiguration Church

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. The Volkonskiy House, located behind the Transfiguration Church off Ul. Timuryazeva near the bus station, was one of the focal points of the Decembrists' social life in the mid-19th Century. The Trubetskiy House at Ul. Dzerzhinskovo 24, as of March 2008, has a sign on the door (dated September 2006, no less) saying that it is closed for restoration.

Also among the Soviet concrete monstrosities, Irkutsk features street after street of atmospheric, decaying wooden buildings. Most of these are either abandoned or still used as private residences, though, and cannot be entered without permission of the owner, but provide for an atmospheric stroll down the street.

Irkutsk Philarmony

Irkutsk Philarmony. Classic, jazz, folk music performance.[4] on 2, Dzerzhinskogo st.

The City History Museum at Ul. Tchaikovskovo 5 has an interesting and thorough display of Irkutsk from its inception to the present day. It is currently located across the river (on the same side as the railway station) from the city center; take bus 8, 11, 23, or 25 from the Angara Hotel, although one will probably have to ask which stop to get off at. The museum is scheduled to move to a new building in the city center in Summer 2008. Closed Wednesdays and holidays.[5]

The Europe House (Shastin's House), Irkutsk

The Geology Museum at Irkutsk State Polytechnical University has an extensive display of gems and minerals found in Siberia and the Russian Far East, even a block of asbestos under glass. From the center, take bus 3, 4, or 21 across the river to the Polytechnical University (behind the railway station); the museum itself is in the central of the three southern wings of the university — do not enter through the main entrance, but rather walk around the outside of the building to the right.

The Irkutsk Regional Museum at Ul. Karla Marksa 2 (across from the Alexander III memorial on the Angara embankment) has an interesting ethnographic exhibit on indigeous peoples including Even and Buryats, and a display on Irkutsk in the 20th Century. Closed Mondays.[6]

Sukachev Art Museum at Lenina 5. Probably Siberia's best collection of fine art, including several early icons, Russian secular art of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including a few works of Repin, a section of Mongolian and Chinese art, and a section of European art including a collection of lesser-known Dutch masters. Closed Tuesdays.[7]

The Sukachev Estate at Ul. Dekabristov Sobytii 112 near the TANK bus stop. The estate of a 19th-century mayor of Irkutsk showing life of the upper classes at the time, in a series of log houses that he lived in[8].

Visit local Orthodox churches and Roman-Catholic church in city center.

Prince Vladimir Monastery

Tucked away in the residential area of Irkutsk is a small Nerpinary. The Nerpinary is home to two Baikal seals. For a small price you can go and see these seals perform a small presentation and paint a picture! which you can even purchase after.

Ice-breaker "Angara"

Ice-breaker "Angara", the oldest amongst steam ice-breakers in the world, built in 1900 in Newcastle, now a museum docked at the city's port.

Znamensky Monastery at ul. Angarskaya 14. Three-centuries old monastery where Alaska explorer Grigory Shelekhov is buried [9]. Nearby it is a monument to Alexander Kolchak, White General. [10]

Knyaze-Vladimirsky Monastery ul. Kashtanovskaya 52. Built in 1888 in honour of Prince Vladimir who baptisized Rus.

Irkutsk is now constructing its business centre Irkutsk-City not far away from the historic centre. A couple of high-tech buildings are there, but more is left to be built.

There is a big dam and hydroelectricity plant in Irkutsk. You can take trolley bus number 8, which will drive across the dam. Afterwards, you can walk to a fuel station, where you can see the power plant very well. Afterwards, you can walk across the dam. Beside the plant, it's also possible to go up and down the dam itself. Not many people seem to consider the dam and hydroelectric plant as an interesting sight, so you'll be more or less alone there.

Do[edit][add listing]

In the winter, the central park has many ice sculptures as well as an ice castle that you can walk around in. There are ice slides in this park also. Most Russians stand up and slide on the soles of their shoes. The park is very lively at night with tourists, even though the temperatures drop well below -20 degrees C.

Hold the right hand's thumb of statue of famous Russian writer A. Vampilov, who was born near Irkutsk, which is located near Drama theather on Karl Marx street for good luck and happiness in your life. It is a new and popular tradition in Irkutsk, started from Vampilov's anniversary.

Visit Angara embankment at the end of Ul. Karla Marksa in the evening, the place for meeting of the youth.

Walk down Ul. Uritskogo, a pedestrian street with shops and cafes.

Learn[edit]

  • Alliance française [11].
  • Irkutsk state university [12].

Buy[edit][add listing]

Kamusi

Wood carvings, birchwood boxes, and lacquer boxes are typical souvenirs of Siberia. A few hotels have souvenir stalls in the lobby, and the Regional Museum at Ul. Karla Marksa 2 has a decent selection in their gift shop as well.

Kamusi are winter boots used by native Siberians made out of deer, elk, or other fur. One place to buy is at a small shop across from the bus station at Ul. Oktyabrskoi Revolyutsii 20B called "Aikhal". It's in a courtyard behind some kiosks, so it takes some searching. They have kamusi for men, women, and children, with prices starting at about RUB3000.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Irkutsk has lots of restaurants offering Russian, Siberian, Buryat, Mongolian, Japanese, Chinese and European cuisine. For a local speciality, Omyl, Sig and Kharius are local fishes found in the lake Baikal (available in many restaurants). Cold smoked kharius is good with beer. Hot smoked kharius you can find in Listvyanka or Kultuk villages near Baikal lake. Price depends on fish size and is usually about RUB150-25 for one. In the Central or New market (Noviy Rinok) you can buy kharius and sig caviar - tasty.

Kochevnik on Gor'kogo Street, nice Mongolian restaurant with relaxing atmosphere.

Seul at Ul. Dekyabrskikh Sobytii, Korean and Chinese.

Siberian Village (Сибирская Деревенька) at the Angara Hotel on Kirov Square, Siberian cuisine, a stylish place representing an entire village.

Rus at the hotel Rus, Russian.

Cafe Shokolad at Ul. Dekyabrskikh Sobytii 102 behind the wedding palace, is a clean, modern cafe with good salads, reasonably-priced main courses, and, as their name suggests, sumptuous desserts. A bit outside the historical center (near the TANK bus stop), it is a good place to relax after an excursion to the Sukachev Estate down the street.

Pizza Domino with no relation to the US chain, is at Lenina 13A across from the Lenin Statue. They do pizzas, soups, and other quick meals. Very cheap, and open 24 hours.

Pizza Pinnochio near the Angara Hotel on Kirov Square and other locations; quick and inexpensive pizzas that are sometimes reheated in a microwave.

National Buryat big dumplings (boozy, pozy) you can find in Amrita cafés. It's a special Buryat fast food chain with some cafés in the middle of town. Cheap, tasty. Pozy is a steamed meat (beef with pork) big dumplings must be eating using only hands. First small bite at side of the booza bottom - carefully drink hot meat bouillon. Next bites - finishing this booza.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Broadway, 29, Sedova st, (), [13]. Tu-Th 12:00-02:00, Fr-Sa 12:00-06:00 the bar works around clock. European and Russian cuisine, a dance floor at nights.  edit
  • Club ''Megapolis'' (Мегаполис), 4, Ulanbatorskaya st, +7(3952) 42-64-10. 22:00-7:00. A night club for 2000 persons admittance fee RUB50-200 depending on the weekday.  edit
  • Club ''Stratosfera'' (Стратосфера), 15 Karla Marksa st, [14]. Three bars (big, beer and disco), dancefloor, pizzeria, two 3D cinemas, bowling.  edit
  • Panorama (Панорама), 102 Dekabrskikh Sobytiy st, +7(3952) 533-628 (), [15]. Cafes Shololade and Summer Terrace; show-club Panorama.  edit
  • Yefimich (Ефимыч), 3, Karla Marksa st, (3592) 20-01-70. A Bar-restaurant for 100 seats inside and 70 seats on the summer ground  edit

Balsams Buryatia and Amrita are very nice Buryat alcoholic drinks (costs about RUB180 each 0.75L). Thay are also very helpful against cold. Balsam Buryatia was consecrated by Dalai-Lama XIV, as it says label on the bottle.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Some locals have rooms for rent.

  • Nerpa Backpackers Hostel, Sportivniy lane bld. 5A apt. 1, [16]. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 10:00. A great hostel in the city center, located in 7-minute walk from the train station. Friendly staff, all the basic amenities (2 bathrooms and toilets, spacious common room and kitchen, lockers, laundry etc.) You will also be provided with linens and towels. Visa registration costs 400R. There are one double (twin) room (shared accommodation possible) at RUB750 per bed, and two 8-bed dorm room at RUB600 per bed.  edit
  • Baikal Hostel [17]. The hostel is between the train station and the dam on the River Angara. Get off at the bus and Marshrutka station Mikrochirugia Glasa, on the main street uliza Lermontova. From there it's a 1-minute walk.
  • Explorerhostel, 5-th army street 71, flat 6., +7-950-089-02-55 (, fax: +7 (812) 275 1992), [18]. checkin: 12-00; checkout: 12-00. Hostel in Irkutsk From €12 per night.  edit
  • Magic Hostel, 5 Timiriazeva St., the 2nd floor, +7(3952)68-00-68, [19]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. A modern accommodation is located in the very center of Irkutsk. All the historical places, entertainment centres and shopping malls are at walking distance. 500RUB.  edit
  • Irkutsk City Lodge, Baykalskaya 124/2, +7(3952)48-60-4, [20]. checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. Here you'll find a mix of luxurious themed private rooms and comfortable dormitory.Pick upfrom the trainstation and airport.Free visa registration.Free breakfast.Laundry and dring only 50RUB. Night only 600RUB. 600RUB.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Angara Hotel. the hotel is 2.5km from the train station, at the Kirov Square in the centre. The hotel offers 280 rooms, a fitness centre, sauna, swimming pool as well as a billiard room.
  • Courtyard Irkutsk, Chkalov Street 15, [21]. checkin: 15:00; checkout: 12:00. Courtyard by Marriott in walking distance of the Kirov Place. 208 spacious guestrooms, including 7 suites, free access to fitness. Lobby Bar, a full American-style breakfast buffet in the restaurant.  edit

Contact[edit]

Consulates[edit]

  • Ch-flag.png China (General Consulate), Karla Marksa street, 40, +7 (3952) 781-433, 781-434, 781-435 (fax: +7 (3952) 781-413).  edit
  • Lh-flag.png Lithuania (Honourary Consulate), 259B Baikalskaya St, +7 (3952) 35-93-59, 35-93-58, 35-16-54 (, fax: +7 (3952) 35-93-59, 35-93-58, 35-16-54), [22]. 8:00—19:00 Mon-Fri.  edit
  • Mg-flag.png Mongolia (General Consulate), 11 Lapina St (Near Khudozhestvenny cinema), +7 (3952) 34-22-95 (fax: +7 (3952) 34-21-43). 9.30-12.00, 14.30-17.00 Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri.  edit
  • Pl-flag.png Poland (General Consulate), 18 Sukhe Batora St, +7 3952 288 010 (, fax: +7 3952 288 012), [23]. Visas 10:00-14:00, otherwise 9:00-17:00 Mon-Fri.  edit
  • Ks-flag.png South Korea (General Consulate), Boulevard Gagarina, 44, Hotel Irkutsk (former Intourist), +7 (3952) 24-13-19. Mon-Fri 9-00AM - 5-00PM.  edit

Get out[edit]

Wooden Church at Taltsi
  • Listvyanka. 1,5h from Irkutsk by bus (100RUB) or boat (700RUB) to Bajkal lake.
  • Irkutsk port serves boats to Ust-Barguzin, Nizhneangarsk, Bolshoye Koty, Listvyanka and port Baikal on the Circum-Baikal Railway.
  • Lake Baikal (Озеро Байкал). Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world, lies about an hour away by train or an hour and a half by bus. It can be circled by train (lengths vary from a few hours to 3 days).  edit
  • Architectural-Ethnographical Museum 'Tal'tsy' (Иркутский архитектурно-этнографический музей «Тальцы»), (To get there, take a bus from the Irkutsk bus station in the direction of Listvyanka (Листвянка); Tal'tsy (Тальцы) is about 45 minutes away and halfway to Listvyanka. To move on from Taltsi either to Listvyanka or Irkutsk, it appears the only way to do so is to hail a bus at one of the bus stops outside the museum grounds on the main road.), [24]. This village of several 17th-19th century wooden houses, churches, and a fort that were relocated from around Irkutsk Oblast to form this interesting open-air museum. 40-80 RUB, depending on the type of bus and 40 RUB for foreign adults museum fee.  edit
  • Olkhon island (Остров Ольхон). Olkhon island on lake Baikal offers breath-taking views and rest.  edit
  • Cherskiy mountain range (Хребет Черского), (2-hour ride on suburban train.). Make 3-day trip to Cherskiy peak (about 2,000 m) near Slyudyanka (Слюдянка).  edit
  • Arshan Resort (Курорт Аршан), (You can get there by bus or marshrutka from the bus station. Marshrutka is more convenient because it is faster and do not have a stops. For getting a marshrutka ask the men staying in front of the station, they will show you who goes there.). Arshan village in Buryatia offers mineral water springs (cold and hot springs at Arshan, and hot springs at Zhemchug village (Жемчуг) — about 10 km from Arshan) and scenic views of mountains. 350-400 RUB (bus or marshrutka).  edit
  • Daily trains to Mongolia arrive after 36 hours to Ulaanbaatar.


Routes through Irkutsk
NovosibirskAngarsk  W noframe E  Ulan UdeKhabarovsk


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