Baikal World - Wooden Irkutsk
Origin & Development
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Circumbaikal Railway • 
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Wooden Irkutsk • 
Trans-Siberian Railway • 
People of Lake Baikal
People of Siberia • 
Buryat nation in Baikal • 
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Explanation of the local terms and geographical names at lake Baikal
Irkutsk city / The Wooden Center

baikal travel
Wooden Irkutsk - modern center of eastern Siberia / BBC center

Wooden Irkutsk - White House / Library

Wooden Irkutsk - Curch

Wooden Irkutsk - East-Siberian Railway department

Wooden Irkutsk - Library

Wooden Irkutsk - wooden school of the end of the 19th century

Wooden Irkutsk - wooden church at Taltsi museum

Wooden Irkutsk - wooden living house

Wooden Irkutsk - wooden living house

Wooden Irkutsk - wooden living house

Wooden Irkutsk - Siberia living house

Wooden Irkutsk - Siberiam wooden living house

Irkutsk Architecture

A newcomer to Irkutsk immediately falls under impression of its historic memory, which is primarily imprinted into the city's architecture. Our city is the home for the old and the new, the historical and the modern, the provincial and capital-like. In today's Russia, this city belongs to museum-cities because it was able to preserve the romantic appearance of relaxed and careful construction and radiance of golden domes above the blue Angara.

The first industrial enterprise in Irkutsk was a brick factory. But before it was put into operation, Irkutsk was a town of log structures. The fire in 1879 destroyed nearly 80% of the central part of Irkutsk. However, the town was rebuilt quickly and its recovery was aided by the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1898. The city ancient center is spread along the right bank of the river. It still contains many wooden houses. In Irkutsk there are 685 historical and cultural monuments, 108 have federal status.
In terms of the number of churches, Irkutsk is distinguished from other cities of Siberia and Far East. By 1917, Irkutsk had 2 cathedrals, 3 monasteries and convents with their own churches, 22 parish churches, 28 churches in institutions: schools, hospitals and military regiments, 9 chapels. Most of these were destroyed during the Soviet epoch; however, fortunately, far from all of the churches suffered this fate.

For instance, Irkutsk may be proud of all-Siberia famous Spasskaya church, which was built as early as 1706. Bogoyavlenskiy (Epiphany) cathedral was built in 1718 and is still functioning. The territory of Znamenskiy (Omen) monastery, which is also the residence of bishop of Irkutsk and Angarsk, is the burial ground for prominent statesmen of Siberia: the first founder of Siberian lands Grigoriy Shelekhov, wife of Trubetskoy Decembrist - Ekaterina, first bishop of Irkutsk - sanctifier Innokentiy. Kharlampievskaya church, which is located in the very center of the city, is now being restored. This is the church, where Admiral Kolchak, the supreme ruler of Siberia, had his wedding.

Wooden Irkutsk

Irkutsk is famous for itís wooden architecture. It has has preserved many of monuments including ancient log structures. Some of the log structures have presently been restored. Almost all of the wooden houses are privately owned. Siberian wooden houses of course differ from the log structures of the European Russia.
The art of constructing wooden houses in this part of Russia passed through 3 well marked stages:
The 1st stage was the shortest. It was represented by the houses of the first settlers of the city. Unfortunately, none of this houses remain. Obviously, they were very simple structures - huts. Siberian huts were huge brown structures. They all had basements which were used to store provisions. The basement is the most characteristic feature of Siberian houses.
The 2nd stage came in the middle of the 18th century. During this time the house was modified. The basement was turned into a kitchen of living space, a front porch and balcony appeared and the windows were widened.
The 3rd stage began in the first half of the 19th century. Simple structures gave way to more complicated and interesting construction. These houses had different porches and attics. The facades were decorated with carvings and thread work. Special emphases were placed on adorning windows, with rich carvings and scrolls. The windows were similar to the windows of a palace in a Russian fairy-tale. The ornaments were not only decorative, but also symbolic. The symbols depicted different hopes, and dreams of the people of that time. For example - people believed that evil spirits could enter the dwelling through doors and windows frames. So the decorations used in those parts of the house were for protection. The sign of the sun could be outlined with jagged star shapes. It is obvious that this symbolizes life, happiness, and the beginning of all good things. Also 2 pigeons with a bunch in their beaks are symbolic of a "Universe tree". Long ago, people believed that in the heavenly paradise there was a fairy tree covering all of heaven with leaves and fruits of all the trees and plants from all over the world. In this tree these pigeons lived.
All wooden houses can be divided into 3 large groups:
  • 1st - those constructed from specially published pattens during the end of 18th through the beginning of 19th century.
  • 2nd - houses of individual projects made up by the local masters.
  • 3rd - the most common type in Irkutsk with a basement, a high porch and a balcony on the back side of the house.
Usually, five or six windows face the street. The windows are rather big. The house is richly decorated with serous mostly of the Baroque style which was popular at that time. Sculpturesque shutters are painted in blue and green. Blue and green are 2 favorite colors in Siberia. Blue is a symbol of hope and green is for long life and youth. White is symbolic of purification.
In Siberia, wooden houses are built in pine and cedar. Sometimes the foundation is of larch because it is firm and when put under water became as strong as iron. The upper part is constructed our of pine, because it helps to retain heat inside the house. Until the end of the last century, the interior of wooden houses was made out of clean logs.

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