An Introduction to Irkutsk
The center of the city is full of wooden houses with typical decorative carvings on the walls and window frames. Most of the buildings of this kind were destroyed in Moscow and other big cities during the industrialization of the 20th century, so it’s a rare opportunity to see what a Russian city would look like if it stayed the way it was back in the days.
Irkutsk is also a starting point for expeditions and tours to Baikal Lake, which is just in 1 hour ride from the city. In Summer, there are a lot of travelers from all over the world going to the lake from Irkutsk.
If you don’t have time for the lake but just several hours in the city, we recommend you to visit the central market with its fabulous fish rows. You can buy any type of Baikal lake fish there as well as caviar. Irkutsk is a really nice place to spend several days just walking around the city, or as a base to visit Baikal Lake and Sayan mountains.
Irkutsk was founded in the 1661 as a fort to colonize Siberia. It was the main Russian fort behind the Ural mountains, so all the expeditions to colonize Kamchatka and Alaska have begun there. For centuries Russian emperors and communists (later) exiled political prisoners to Irkutsk, so many brainy Russians spent years in the city and this influenced the average IQ level of inhabitants.
As of 2011 the population is about 587 200 people. Irkutsk is important business center in Siberia and considered to be important Trans-Siberian Railway junction. Local phone code is (3952). Local time is GMT+5. The city is situated on the both banks of Angara river, which is going out of lake Baikal. Baikal is in 30 km from Irkutsk.
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