Upon returning from the lake, I had the opportunity to spend a day in Irkutsk, before leaving on the Trans-Siberian Railway, for the last stop in Russia.
We are about 4300 km away as the crow flies from Moscow. Over 5000 km of railway behind us.
Irkutsk in a nutshell
The following is an interactive map. The brown pins mark some of Irkutsk’s main points of interest, the black ones mark the railway station and the Hotel Yakovlev where I stayed.
Just like Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan, Irkutsk lies at the confluence of two rivers: Irkut and Angara. Along the Trans-Siberian Railway route, Irkutsk is definitely one of the tourist-friendly cities I have visited, thanks to the near Lake Baikal, which makes this city a perfect place to stop.
Visiting Irkutsk on foot is quite easy, thanks to the green line drawn on the sidewalks that leads the tourist to all the main attractions of the city along a guided route. This is common in Russia. In Yekaterinburg, there were two colored lines to follow, one red and the other blue; in Novosibirsk, the line was red.
In Irkutsk, each point of interest along the green line is numbered, and an informative plate is placed near it.
The Moscow Gate is a Triumphal Arch located near the riverside. I recommend visiting the whole area because there are several statues, sculptures, and other small attractions here.
A mix of colorful towers built in different styles distinguishes this Cathedral, one of the most famous in Irkutsk.
A large number of the city’s attractions are located in and around this park. Some of them are:
Church of the Savior
Church of Our Lady of the Assumption
Easy to recognize because it is a Roman Catholic Church and, for this reason, has a different architectural style. For example, its towers, unlike the Orthodox ones, are not onion-shaped.
House of Soviets
A big administrative building built in the Soviet-style.
It is a war memorial placed right in the center of the park in front of the House of Soviets.
Not far from the previous park, this square is also surrounded by several historic buildings, built in different architectural styles. There is a Tourist-Infopoint quite in the middle of the square.
Karl Marx Street
Another touristic highlight, it is worth doing this road entirely on foot because many historical buildings, museums, monuments, and sculptures are located here. Some of them worth the mention:
Irkutsk Regional Museum of Local Lore
It immediately catches the eye because it was set up in a 1700s Palace built with red bricks in Victorian style and recently renovated.
Irkutsk State Science Library
In Irkutsk, there are small neighborhoods almost entirely made up of old traditional wooden houses. Some of these are crumbling, sometimes they seem abandoned. Others are in excellent condition or have been recently restored.
These buildings are very distinctive, and it is worth taking a walk here.
If I am not wrong, there are several settlements of this type in Irkutsk, but I have marked only one on the map above: it is where I have been, and unfortunately, I do not have additional information.
I was fascinated by this architecture. For this reason, I have put here more photos than in the paragraphs above, where I just listed some attractions.
Church of the Holy Cross
It is a church built in the Siberian Baroque style that dates back to 1700.
This sculpture represents the Siberian Tiger (Babr, half-tiger, and half-beaver), one of the Irkutsk landmarks. You find it right at the entrance of the food mile.
Other buildings or places of interest
It is a beautiful and colorful church built in the Byzantine style. Unfortunately, it is not centrally located, and I was unable to visit it.
Monument to Yuriy Gagarin
The first human to journey into outer space. A bust on the Irkutsk riverside is dedicated to him.
Circus of Irkutsk
The classic circus building of many Russian cities.
Monument to Leonid Gaidai
It is a sculpture in memory of one of the most famous Soviet directors, screenwriters, and actors. The monument is located near the circus and is surrounded by several administrative and government buildings.
After the visit of Irkutsk, the last Russian stop awaits me before getting on the Trans-Mongolian Railway towards Beijing. It will be a short journey, about 8 hours by train, from Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude. The arrival is expected at around 5 am.
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Railway – All you need to know
Travel arrangements: General Information
Departure station: Moscow
First stop: Nizhny Novgorod
Second stop: Kazan
Third stop: Yekaterinburg
Fourth Stop: Novosibirsk
Fifth stop: Krasnoyarsk and Stolby Nature Sanctuary
Sixth stop: Lake Baikal
Seventh stop: Irkutsk
Eighth stop: Ulan-Ude
Ninth stop: Ulaanbaatar
Tenth stop: Datong
Arrival station: Beijing