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Everyday Russia

Irkutsk Oblast

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Irkutsk Oblast

by Elena Anosova

Name: Elena Anosova

Age: 32

Profession: Graphic Designer, Photographer

City/Region: Irkutsk and Irkutsk oblast

How long have you been doing photography? What style or genre most interests you? About three years. Visual stories. Documentary.

Can you give us a short description of your city? Where is it located? What is it famous for? The region lives in the shadow of its main attraction: Lake Baikal. Aside from the traditional omul fish and the tender nerpa seals, we have plenty to see: excellent wooden houses and the Taltsy Open Air Ethnographic Museum, which is so good it is often compared with Sweden's Skansen Museum.

Irkutsk oblast is a large region. Part of it is located in the North: people live very isolated lives there, in small villages. In the winter, the temperature can drop to minus 50 Celcius. The people lere live off hunting and fishing.

There are loads of excellent places on Baikal that even locals have never seen. Olkhon Island is a mecca for tourists from all over the world. It is nice at any time of year, but especially magical in winter. Baikal freezes, or, as the locals put it, it “rises” [встает] only in February-March. At this time of year, the universe’s largest ice rink forms around Olkhon Island…

Irkutsk is the capital of the region. It has 600,000 residents and they all live together peacefully. In 1661 the Cossacks landed on Buryat soil and built an outpost. To this day the native Buryats and the Russians live together peacefully. Such things as nationalism are a great rarity here.

If you ask an Irkutyanin about the city’s main features, they will name the homes of the exiled Decembrists, historical objects and some other historical facts. For example that the Czech writer Yaroslav Gashek lived in Irkutsk and in 1905 founded the first Buryat newspaper (still publishing). Or that the White Guard Admiral Kolchak lived out his final days here and was executed in this city.

Irkutsk has traditions: city carnival in summer, Christmas concerts by the world famous pianist Denis Matsuyev (a native son). And other events fill up the city and region, and guests arrive here from all over the world: ethnic festivals and large ecological actions on Olkhon Island, the Baikal Cup Ice Regatta, free-ride on Mamai Mountain and others.

What is something about your city that only locals would know? 

Buuzy and pozy [буузы и позы] are two different types of dumplings. Byyzy are made with mince meat, pozy with ground meat.

The nerpa seal is a surprising animal. For example if it is pregnant and under great stress, its fetus may simply disappear of its own accord.

During his trip through Siberia, Anton Chekhov wrote that “Irkutsk is an entirely intelligent city.” To this day, we take pride in this.

Which places or sites are a must for someone to see if they visit your city?

The Circumbaikal Railway is an amazing architectural wonder.

Bratsk Hydroelectric Station – it contains all of the power of Soviet builders of the past century.

Taltsy Museum for Wooden Architecture.

Irkutsk Planetarium – the first private planetarium in Russia. It is in the historic 130 section.

Olkhon Island.

Anything else you would like to add? My website is


  • Grandma

    I was asked to share a picture of my cheerful grandmother. We did some shopping to choose gifts for our family and had a bit of fun. Smile with us!

    Elena Anosova

  • Epiphany

    People say that real Siberian is not one who never gets cold, but one who dresses properly. Epiphany is an an exception. Here in Irkutsk even frosts of 30 degrees below zero cannot prevent people from jumping in the icy waters!
    Elena Anosova

  • Angara

    The main promenade zone is the Angara River embankment. Romantic students, exalted tourists, and families all stroll here no matter the weather. You can meet acquaintances, artists, and musicians here, or perhaps a horse or a deer. It is the only street in the city where snow is properly removed.
    Elena Anosova

  • Bear Paws

    There is a myth that every Siberian has a tamed bear at home. It is not so. But there is a good chance of meeting a bear in northern villages. How these stories end can differ. We do not eat bear meat. Almost all bear meat is infected with trichinellosis.
    Elena Anosova

  • Water

    Water is the special pride of Irkutsk citizens. You can drink sweet water right from the lake Baikal, in Irkutsk tasty water runs from the tap. Villagers are a bit less lucky. Denis and Mikhail (pictured) live in the village of Vvedentshina. They drink and take water for cooking from the River Irkut. In their opinion, it is the most fresh and tasty water available.
    Elena Anosova

  • Emergency

    Denis and Lera play Emergencies Ministry in school. There is a grain of truth in very joke: this summer and autumn there were widespread peat-bog fires in Irkutsk region and around Baikal forest. People worked together to combat the fires. No games.
    Elena Anosova

  • Icebreaker

    The icebreaker Angara is more than a century old, and thus is the oldest existing icebreaker in the world. She has lived through two world wars and a civil war, experienced several major accidents and restorations. Now she is a museum and sees only good things: in winter a skating rink is set up alongside the icebreaker, and Irkustskians like to spend their leisure time there.
    Elena Anosova

  • Winter

    This year a true winter with deep frosts came to Irkutsk. For several years winter has not been like this. Locals usually snarl against the weather: in summer they miss the snow, in winter - grass. But we live in a sunny region, full of light, snow and frost.
    Elena Anosova

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