Baikal Irkutsk Trans Siberian

Irkutsk: Historical Center 

The square with park alleys and the Eternal flame monument in the middle of it is considered to be the most central historical part of Irkutsk. This place lies along the right bank of the Angara river at the confluence of Angara with the Irkut river. In 1661 the first wooden fort (the stockaded town) was established. It is believed that the name of the city originates from the name of the river Irkut.

The word Irkut came from the languages of native Siberian people who were ethnically Mongolian and is translated as “speedy, fast flowing river”. According to the chronicles the group of Cossacks headed by Yakov Pokhabov arrived to this place in spring 1661. They have chosen the best possible place for the fort. This clear high space overlooking the river was full of fish, surrounded by dense taiga which could give plenty of food, wood for building and furs for trade.

At first the fort was very small only 17 by 19 meters (55 x 62 ft). However, the wall around it looked significant. According to the chronicles it was 8 meters (26 ft) high to protect the inhabitants from wild animals and the locals. For several years the fort was not a place of permanent residence. It was used only several times a year when Tsar commissioners arrived to Irkutsk fort to collect furs from the natives. Local population exchanged rich furs for gold, silver, textiles, etc. It was due to active trade that Irkutsk grew rapidly into a large commercial center of the Asian part of Russia.

The historical center of Irkutsk accommodates 3 old churches one of them used to be the first and the only stone structure on the territory of old Irkutsk. These churches are Our Saviors Church, Epiphany Cathedral and Polish Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Right now on the former territory of wooden fort there is a large square with the war memorial in the middle of it. It was opened in May 1975 when the country celebrated the 30-th anniversary of victory in World War II. The honor guard now watches over the memorial. The guard changes every 15 minutes. A group of five school children marches to the memorial and then at the eternal flame replace all the guards with the new ones.

Irkutsk: Historical Center Irkutsk: Historical Center Irkutsk: Historical Center

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