Start your promenade by visiting this famous tourist destination. The quarter stands in the center of Irkutsk, at the intersection of Sedov, Kozhov and 3rd Iyulya streets. If you’re going by public transportation, exit at the “Lenin” (“Philharmonia”) bus stop and walk towards the sculpture of a huge animal that you’ll see it from far away. Alternately, you can exit at the “Musical Theater” bus stop and walk towards the neat rows of pretty wooden buildings.
The guides describe the 130th Quarter as a historical zone with new contents. Imagine that a time machine moved the buildings and furnishings from the past into the 21st century. Museums, souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels and a mall all coexist in peace behind old walls. A wide street promenade, fully equipped concert area, all kinds of food and drinks booths, benches and lovely sculptures surround those buildings.
- A babr sculpture stands where a former Lutheran cemetery used to be.
- “Noosphere” museum complex with a planetarium and a public observatory.
- “Eksperimentary” museum of entertaining science.
- Two departments of the Irkutsk Regional Museum, “Window to Asia” exhibition department and the Children’s Museum.
- Handicraft farmstead, and exhibition hall of the House of Folk Arts.
- Dias art gallery.
- The wishing circle is a metal disk with an engraving that says “Irkutsk 350 years”. To make your wish come true, stand up on the disk, spin three times counterclockwise, flip a coin and make a wish.
- Monument to the dog. A bronze welsh corgi also makes wishes come true – just scratch the dog behind the ear.
Yunost’ Island and Gagarin Boulevard
Move on from your visit to the 130th Quarter to the Yunost’ Island. Yunost’ means “Youth” in Russian, and so the island is always full of young people and fun. During the summer, people go picnicking on the grass, play football and beach volleyball, compete in drifting and have fun at the color festival. From May 9th until August 31st, a children’s railway takes passengers on a slow trip around the island. A 20-minute ride costs 190–200 rubles.
Walk to Gagarin Boulevard from the island. In the past centuries, the boulevard was called Alexander Garden and University Quay. The boulevard got its current name in honor of the first human who went to space in April 1961. There’s always something to do at the boulevard. Take a promenade, watch Angara River flow, sit under a tree to read a book, cycle, go roller-skating or participate in yearly events such as the freemarket or Soap Bubbles Day.
- A monument to Alexander III.
- Until 1920, the building of the Institute of Mathematics, Economics and Informatics of Irkutsk State University was the Institute for Noble Maidens, the first educational institution for women in Siberia.
- The White House became the Scientific Library of Irkutsk State University.
- Bust of Yuri Gagarin.
- Monument to soldiers of law and order.
Karl Marx Street
From Gagarin Avenue, proceed to one of the biggest streets of Irkutsk. In past, it was called the Big Street and Big Perspective Street. In 1920, it was renamed to Karl Marx Street. Today, this street is a 2350-meter long historical and architectural reserve.
Your camera won’t get to rest for a single minute after you see the beautiful buildings of Karl Marx Street. In between 19th and 20th century monuments, go take a look at a fountain or stop by a cozy coffee shop or a restaurant.
- The building of the Irkutsk Regional Museum was built in 1883 for the East Siberian Department of the Russian Geographical Society and designed by G. Rosen.
- The building that houses the Department of Nature of the Irkutsk Regional museum used to be a lithography firm and a bookshop.
- House №13 is a museum studio, built in 1905-1908 by “Rossiya” insurance company. In 1932, it became a printing and editing office of “Vostochno-Sibirskaya Pravda” newspaper.
- Irkutsk Regional Drama Theater.
- Monument to Alexander Vampilov, a Siberian playwright, stands in the square outside of the theater.
- Cinema “Khudozhestvenny”, called “Decadence” before the revolution, belonged to Yagdzhoglu, an industrialist.
- “Revolutsia” gallery.
- Dom Khudozhnika (House of Artists).
- The building on the corner of Karl Marx Street and Litvinov Street used to host the Grand Hotel, the Russian-Chinese bank and a private school in the early 20th century. The corner of the house on the ground floor hosted a bookshop and a store of jewelry and watches. The hotel had a restaurant, a cafe and a concert hall.
When you’re finished with Karl Marx Street, proceed to one of the main streets of the city. Lenin Street had various other names in the past. It also led straight to lake Baikal.
Today, this streets is full of shops, cafes and offices with several inexpensive hotels and decent hostels. The main charm of this street lies in its wonderful 19th and early 20th century buildings.
- Hospital №2 at the intersection of Lenin and Karl Marx streets used to be a department of the Russian-Asian Bank.
- Irkutsk Regional Art Museum.
- Department of Geology of the Irkutsk State University used to be a State Bank.
- The right wing of the building of the Baikal State University of Economics and Law was built in 1895 for Alexander Mariinsky five-class primary school.
- The building of the Irkutsk Regional Youth Theater is a former hotel, built in 1906. In addition to the hotel, the building also hosted a theater, a specialized Italian shop and a first-class restaurant.
- Irkutsk City Hall and City Council building.
- The building of the Irkutsk Regional Government.
- Chapel of Our Lady of Kazan.
- Irkutsk State Linguistic University.
- Park sculptures near a dental clinic.
The Kirov Square
The square is located within the boundaries of Lenin, Zhelyabov and Sukhe-Baator streets. The Kirov Square is the center of many major events, such as a Victory Day parade and New Year celebrations. This is the starting place of “Lady on a bike” parade. This is where Irkutsk Arbat unfolds its stands and where the dance festival takes its place.
When the square rests from hosting large events, it remains a popular place for walks, dates and business meetings. Free Wi-Fi is available on its territory.
- The Organ Hall.
- Spasskaya (The Savior) Church is the oldest stone building in Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East. This is the only building that still stands since the times of Irkutsk Kremlin.
- The monument to Saint Peter and Saint Fevronia, the Orthodox patrons of marriage.
- Monument to Russian-Japanese friendship.
- A wing of Irkutsk State Pedagogical University is a former Second Women’s Gymnasium.
The Lower Quay
The square is close to the oldest Irkutsk quay. On this very spot, Yenisei Cossack Yakov Pokhabov and his squad founded the Irkutsk fort in 1661.
When you’re walking down the Lower Quay, visit the observation deck. The highway bridge connects it to a veteran alley and a public garden. If you want to take a ride on a motor ship or a catamaran, walk to the “Moscow Gates” pier. This is the starting point of exciting tours on the Angara River.
- Monument to Yakov Pokhabov, the founder of Irkutsk.
- “Moscow Gates” Triumphal Arch.
- Bogoyavlensky (Epiphany) Cathedral is a brilliant example of the Moscow baroque.
Dekabrsky Sobytiy Street
The Lower Quay is a starting point of one of the oldest streets in Irkutsk. It used to be the main highway that entered the city, and it also had various different names in the past.
This street still shows off the beautiful 19th century buildings that stand tall even nowadays. Walk down this street if you’d like to get to feel the past. This would be better than reading books and guides, as you’ll see and feel everything for yourself.
- School № 72 on the corner of Dekabrsky Sobytiy and Rabochaya streets was the first women’s gymnasium before the revolution. It had also been a hospital during the World War II.
- A wing of the East Siberian State Academy of Education used to be a seminary. This seminary was the first place in Eastern Siberia to offer full secondary education.
- The old stone building of the Irkutsk State Agricultural Academy used to be a kitchen for orphans, built at the expense of an Irkutsk merchant Elizaveta Medvednikova.
- Stone Vladimirskaya Church now houses an Orthodox women’s gymnasium.
- Museum of Tea.
- “Irkutsky Komsomolets” tank at the intersection of Dekabrsky Sobytiy and 1st Sovetskaya streets is a real T-34-85, made in 1944.
- Sukachev Manor.
Sukachev Manor park
This manor is the perfect place to end your one-day walk through Irkutsk. The well-groomed park is full of divine scents during the summer. In winter, pure white snow envelops the manor.
Vladimir Platonovich Sukachev was the original owner of the manor. He was a biologist with a fondness for plans. He dreamt of a day when Irkutsk would be surrounded by parks and squares. In his garden, Siberian pine and cedar trees grew side by side to Hungarian lilac and Manchurian walnuts, cotoneaster next to Ussuri pears, and roses and tulips near delphiniums and goldenrods. The gardeners tended to plants throughout all year, carefully wrapping them with straw mats for winter.
After the revolution, the manor went empty, and southern plants froze. The staff of the modern museum did everything they could to restore the blooming gardens of the 19th century. Thanks to their efforts, the park has oaks, Manchurian walnuts, lilacs, acacias and hawthorn trees once again. But the most exotic parts stay in the Winter Garden of the manor. You can come take a look on any day from 10:00 to 18:00 except Monday.
To get to your hotel from the park by public transportation, go to “1st Sovetskaya” or “Usadba Sukacheva” bus stop and board a bus, a minibus or a trolley.