From Past to Present
"From all Siberian cities the best is Irkutsk…
Irkutsk is a splendid city. Quite cultured."
A. P. Chekhov
What do ordinary people know about Irkutsk? Not much, even in Russia. Maybe one thinks that it doesn’t even make sense to know much about a provincial Siberian city. However, being one of the oldest cities in Russia, and certainly in Siberia, Irkutsk offers a great opportunity to study the history of architecture and the way cultures change.
At present Irkutsk is among the largest cities of the Russian Federation. It is a business, cultural, administrative and scientific center. It is one of the seven cities in our country that has a unique historical and cultural heritage. In Irkutsk old log houses with delicate wooden fretwork trim neighbor modern multi-storey buildings. The city is extraordinary because most of the old buildings of this kind were destroyed in Moscow and other large Russian cities during the industrialization of the twentieth century. Being a great example of nineteenth-century architecture, Irkutsk is at the same time a modern city full of youth and students.
According to this, Irkutsk as the center of East Siberia and the city located near Lake Baikal can be very attractive for foreign students and for all people who is interested in history of our city.
From this site you will learn the way epochs changed and styles mixed in Irkutsk. You’ll find the nineteenth-century city and the twentieth-century city combined into one. You’ll see elements of different cultures and their blending. Besides, you can try yourself by passing the tests on history and architecture of Irkutsk; you can make a tour around Irkutsk using different languages or just have fun assembling puzzles! Hope our site will help you to become familiar with Irkutsk - a city most beautiful and original!
Our site provides possibility to find interesting information for different groups of people.
For people interested in history and Russian culture: you can read the “History” section of our site and get acquainted with the map of historical buildings and the descriptions of them, so that you can compare it with the modern state of our city.
For kids: hope you’ll enjoy watching the photos of Baikal seal, child area “Chipollino” in the Central Park and children’s railway.
For those who are going to visit our city or the surroundings: you can watch the map of the most attractive places to visit and read about them in particular or just get acquainted with the text describing the modern life of the city, besides you can make a virtual tour around the center of the city.
For people interested in the authors of the site: read about us and the way we worked over the project, our collaboration and some particularities connected with the process of working over the site.
For those who want just to have fun: try to pass out tests based on the materials of the site, assemble the puzzles. If you like listening to the music, listen to the songs about our city and Baikal, located in the “Interactive” section of our site.
We suppose our site to be of big importance, because the topics touched in it are very acute in modern world. In particular, a lot of people now forget the history of the place they live in, but we really believe they shouldn't, because one can not become a citizen of the country in the full meaning of this word without knowing its history. Besides, we were all inspired by the idea to make our city attractive for foreigners & make them interested in visiting it one day! The value of our region for tourists is really big. Mostly it is because of Lake Baikal and some other points of interest situated nearby.
Lake Baikal is always called the pearl of Siberia, and even of our planet. It is the deepest, the oldest and the largest lake that contains 20% of all the freshwater of the world (1637 metres deep, 30 million years old, 31,494 km² - of water). The volume is equal to the one of all the Great Lakes in North America.
Its eastern part lies in the Buryat Republic, the western one in the Irkutsk Region. The word "Baikal" in the ancient language of local people meant "rich lake", in the modern language of local people it means either "sacred sea" or "rich sea".
The lake is unique because of animals leaving there; about 60% of them are not found anywhere else, including omul (fish allied to salmon), golomyanka (transparent fish consisting mostly of fat), Baikal seal (the only species of its family living in freshwater), some unique freshwater shrimps, sturgeon (a fish that lived in the times of dinosaurs, now it is in a Red list and is protected), some endemic kinds of red fish and a number of other unique animals.
The lake is extremely popular with the tourists from all over the world. The sports that are practiced there include mountain climbing, all kinds of swimming and diving, sailing, surfing, boating, yachting and all kinds of hiking.
Baikal is always used as a place for different conferences, congresses and meetings of different kind and level, especially if the action is connected with ecology. This question is very acute because of Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, that continues to pollute the lake, despite of all the attempts of environmental activists to close it down. The urgent problem was the planned construction of the East-Siberian Pipeline, because it was to pass too close to the shore of the lake (about 800 m). Together with the fact that there is high seismic activity it could lead to oil spill, which, in its turn, could pollute the whole region. The possible building of the pipe resulted in vast society actions, even demonstrations and official remonstrance. Fortunately, our President has already decided to change the direction of the pipe, ensuring the safety of the lake.
Furthermore, there are a lot of other places of interest around our city, so we hope that after getting acquainted with our site you will get interested in the city itself & visit it!