History in Irkutsk

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Hundreds years ago Irkuts was a hosting missionaires, free spirited Cossacks, deportees and rich merchants. All of them in this or other way contributed to a rich cultural heritage contributing to the glory and the honor of their native city.

The spirit of the citizens was lifted by charming melody of hundreds of bells on holydays at the begining of the century. There were about forty Orthodox Churches in Irkutsk in those days. Not all of them could survived to our days. Fortunately, the first church-Spask Church that has been erected at the city's early days still welcomes its guests. This Church was called The swan song of ancient Russian architecture by specialists.

During three and half centures Irkutsk has lived its long-suffering life, has undergone many severe trials. 1879 was called black year which was stamped by fire. Three days and nights the city was burning inferno and then a long ten years were need to rebuild it! All Siberians and Russians created it from ash and after ten years A.P.Chehov could say: "The city of Irkutsk is dandy. It is quite a European city..."

Among others who worked much for the city at that time werw Irkutsk merchants who always were great patriots. They built hospitals, orphanages, colleges, libraries and churches. People said that if they had wanted to make a road of silver roubles, they could do it and a glittering way from Irkutsk to Moscow could be stretched.

There were one and half thousand employers working for the brother-millionaires Vtorovs. And their shops were famous in many cities of Western Europe, in China and Mongolia. To make their own houses they called the best architects from Russia. And it sometimes happened that a famous architects left memories of himself in far Siberia and only later somewhere in Moscow and St.Petersburg.

The whimsical brick house of brothers Vtorov made in neorussian style you can find now at the former Ivanovsaya square. The millionaire Trapeznikov ordered his private residence to be built after the pattern of the famous Luvre. And the great Qwarengi considered it an honor to fulfill the order of powerfull Sibyryakov. Built in his design, the White House was called by contemporaries the oriental palace becouse of its blinding richness.

The Names

Sukachyov - the mayor, the founder of the Irkutsk art museum - made his private residence with an art gallery, in exotic oriental taste, on the outskirts of the city. But after the big fire, Bolshaya street, Amurskaya street and Laninskaya street were made the architectural attraction of the city not only by celebrities from the capital but also by local talented architects: Rozen, Rassushin, Razgildeev, Alexeev, Vasilyev.

But the center of the East Siberia was famous not only for its brick buldings. The log part of the city was very competitive and there you can find more deep national heritage. The mayority of Siberian cities are proud of their log architecture, but only in Irkutsk can you see the top art wooden handicraft baroque platbands where where elastic volutes are stretching one to another decorated by splendid bouquets.

Darkened carved tulips over windows, fans and beamed suns at platbands, slim irises covering house walls, figured carvings at the edge of roofs-and far more were used by carpenters to decorate Irkutsk houses. Even if you know only a little of the mystery of wooden lace work, sightseeing in Irkutsk along old streets could take you on a fantastic journey into the heathenism of ancient Slavs.

The past is the staircase to the future. Nowadays the city of Irkutsk is one of greatest economical and culture centers in the East of the country. Many years ago the modern stately city expanded and grew beyond its former outskirts.

There are the Polish Roman-Catholic church, Tatar mosque, Jewish synagogue which shows that from the very beginning the city was multinational.

Formely detached from central Russia by the rocky Urals this distant Siberian city is connected by living threads with all the world now. The 100-th annyversary of the East-Siberian steamship-line was celebrated in 1985. There are direct routes which connect the city with the Mongolia, Japan and China and a lot of routes within the country.

Today

Despite the fact that Irkutsk is much more than three hundred years old, the average age of the population is only 31.6 years. It is the city of youth and students. There are 36 institutes and colleges and 9 vocational education colleges. Every day 166646 pupils go to the school. In 1949 the East-Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Science founded 9 Research institutions and regional Economy Department. Irkutsk is the theatrical city. In the evenings bright lights are switched on at the entrances of five theatres. There are 15 cinemas and 34 libraries with 2.5 million books.

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