Irkutsk is a city in Russia, the administrative
center of the Irkutsk region and the Irkutsk region, forms the city
district of Irkutsk. It is the sixth largest city of Siberia with a
population of 623,869 people. (2018). Irkutsk is located in Eastern
Siberia, on the banks of the Angara River, at the confluence of the
Irkut River (hence the name of the city), 66 km from Baikal. The
climate is sharply continental with significant temperature
variations. Due to the proximity to the seismically active Baikal
rift, weak earthquakes are regular.
Irkutsk is a major
research and educational center in which more than one hundred
thousand students study. Among the industries are aircraft
manufacturing, hydropower and food production. Transport hub on the
Trans-Siberian Railway and federal highways "Baikal" and "Siberia".
The ancient Siberian city was founded as a prison in 1661. He
suffered greatly in the fire of 1716. The next major fire in 1879
caused such severe destruction that it took more than 10 years to
fully restore the city.
History of Irkutsk
In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovye (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 (a small fort) nearby. The ostrog gained official
town rights from the government in 1686. The first road connection
between Moscow and Irkutsk, the Siberian Route, 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 Mikhail Speransky's reforms, Siberia was
administratively divided at the Yenisei River and Irkutsk became the
seat of the Governor-General of East Siberia.
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
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, had been in
Irkutsk for many years and had 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."
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.
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.
Cathedral, the governor's palace, a school of medicine, a museum, a
military hospital and the crown factories are among the public
institutions and buildings. The Aleksandr Kolchak monument, designed
by Vyacheslav Klykov, was unveiled in 2004. On July 27, 2004, the
Irkutsk Synagogue (1881) was gutted by a conflagration.
December 2016, 74 people in Irkutsk died in a mass methanol