Irkutsk is the sixth largest city in Siberia with a population of 700 thousand people. The ancient Siberian city was founded as a Fort more than 350 years ago.
Irkutsk is located in Eastern Siberia on the bank of the Angara River, in which the Irkut River flows into. That is why the city received the name Irkutsk. Irkutsk is located 66 kilometers far from Lake Baikal, the purest and largest freshwater lake in the world.
In 1970 Irkutsk was included in the list of historical cities. Russian architecture is represented by the oldest stone building, preserved from the Fort – Spasskaya Church (Saviour’s Church), constructed in 1706, and has remnants of the original murals on its facade. Znamenskaya Church (1762) with a tiered bell tower and Bogoyavlensky Cathedral (1718) with a fairytale tent bell tower combine elements of ancient and Baroque styles. The most striking example of the Siberian Baroque is the richly decorated Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, which has a special silhouette in the likeness of a Buddhist pagoda.
By the end of 2017 in Irkutsk there were 761 monuments of wooden architecture. The richly decorated house of Europe, also known as the Lace House, is a copy of the Shastins house (XIX century), rebuilt according to the drawings in 1999. In 2011, within the program of public-private partnership, the project “130 Kvartal” with recreated houses of XVIII-XIX centuries was implemented.
Architectural-ethnographic Museum “Taltsy” – a unique collection of historical monuments, architecture and Ethnography of XVII–XX centuries. It is located on the right Bank of the Angara River at the 47th kilometer on the way from Irkutsk to Lake Baikal. The open-air Museum complex attracts visitors with the opportunity of direct acquaintance with the material and spiritual culture of people of the Baikal region.
The lives of such world celebrities as sculptor and artist Dashi Namdakov, writer Valentin Rasputin, ophthalmologist Peter Cherny, pianist Denis Matsuev are connected with the Baikal region.
Traditionally, in the beginning of September, world-famous musicians from Russia and around the world come to Irkutsk to perform at the annual international festival of academic music “Stars on Baikal”, organized by the world-famous Irkutsk pianist, Denis Matsuev. He also brings new “stars” and new world masterpieces of music to the festival every year.
Also, in Irkutsk there is an opportunity to get acquainted with one of the most interesting Asian nationalities in Russia – Buryats. Thanks to the preserved traditions and culture, they are represented by many interesting, original art works. The work of a number of modern Buryat artists and sculptors represented in major museums and galleries around the world, among them: Dashi Namdakov, Saranga Baldano, Vyacheslav Bukhaev, Zorikto Dorji. Their works are presented in art galleries of Irkutsk.