In 1661, on the instructions of the governor from Yeniseisk on the banks of the Angara, Yakov Pokhabov and his associates laid down a prison named Irkutsk. After 21 years, the prison became the center of the Irkutsk region.
“The Tsar, Tsar Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich and all Great and Small and White Russia autocrat governor Ivan Ivanovich Yenisey’s son boyar Yakunka Ivanov Pokhabov beats his forehead .... now God has allowed the prison to put the best place here, which is more pleasing for arable land and cattle let out mowing and fishing is all close. ”© Y. Pokhabov
The city developed quite rapidly: the lands were inhabited by peasants, merchants conducted trade with China and Mongolia, mines and mines were actively developed. Stone architecture is gradually developing, religious centers appear - a church and a monastery; population is growing. In 1731, the voivode was replaced by vice-governors, and after another 5 years, the Irkutsk province became independent from Tobolsk. In Irkutsk, still young at that time, development was actively going on in a wide range of areas: agriculture, industry, trade, science, communications, culture, and the domestic sphere. It seems that there are no irresistible goals for the Irkutsk inhabitants, and in 1803, Irkutsk became the center of the Siberian Governor General.
In the future, the city keeps up with the whole country: it is experiencing difficulties and booms, the abolition of serfdom, the fall of the Empire, revolution, civil war, the gloomy years of repression and the years of the Great Feat of War during the Second World War, a period of scientific enthusiasm and the formation of a unique class of working intelligentsia, The serene years of the so-called "stagnation", the transition period of Perestroika and new thinking, the collapse of the USSR and the troubled "90s" years, the modern period.
358 years were reflected in the streets of Irkutsk: in architecture, in monuments, in universities and theaters, in the very atmosphere of the city. Like Ulan-Ude, Irkutsk did not forget a single page of its glorious history. Here we see a monument to the founders of the city, a monument to “Grateful Siberia” to Emperor Alexander III, a monument to the leader of the proletariat V.I. Lenin at the intersection of Marx and, of course, Lenin, a monument to the outstanding Soviet playwright Alexander Vampilov in front of the drama theater, a memorial to the heroism of Irkutsk doctors in years of World War II and many others.
I don’t know what is the reason, but the monument to Ilyich is adored by numerous Chinese tourists. They literally squeal and bounce with delight when they see it. It is curious that for a long time the monument was ownerless until it was attributed to the property of the corresponding urban district - Right-Bank.
In some cities, for the convenience of tourists, the so-called "green line", we have already met this all in the same Ulan-Ude. Irkutsk was no exception. You may not know the city at all, don’t carry a map in your pocket and don’t use gadgets (however, gadgets can come in handy for reading QR codes attached to tourist sites). In this case, you do not run the risk of getting lost or missing something, wasting time in a random walk around the streets.
Irkutsk has a curious heraldic symbol - Babr. In Yakut, baabyr means the Amur tiger. However, by mistake, once upon approval of the provincial heraldic emblems, the word "babr" was replaced by "beaver". Artists did not begin to change the tiger for a beaver, but "attached" to it the corresponding tail and webbed feet. In the teeth of heraldic babr holds a sable (in those days there were no animal protectors who could outrage this circumstance).
And of course, Irkutsk is inextricably linked with Lake Baikal. It is located just fifty kilometers from this unique lake-sea, a colossal natural reservoir with pure fresh water. Most tourists come here, then to the base of the west coast or the island of Olkhon. Yes, Baikal is magnificent anywhere, it is powerful and global, it changes the worldview and perception of the world, but, I confess, the east coast, philosophical and serene, personally seemed to me to be more comfortable. However, this, as they say, is a completely different story.