One of the centers of Siberia – Tobolsk – was founded five years after an important stage of development of Russian Siberia – the Russian victory lead by Yermak over the troops of Kuchum Khan (1582).
The detachment of Cossacks lead by Danila Chulkov founded a city of Toboslk in a very convenient location: at the confluence of the Tobol River in one of the world’s largest rivers Irtysh.
The town quickly became a center of development of Russian Siberia. But already in the 19thcentury Tobolsk was away from all main directions of transit of people and goods and became a provincial town.
City of Tobolsk
View of Tobolsk from the Church of the Transfiguration (was not preserved) 1912 / Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky / Library of the US Congress
Znamensky monastery is the oldest monastery in Russian Siberia. It was founded around 1599. There is a reasonable version that the monastery was founded by monks who came from the Russian North – from the Solovetsky Islands.
Russian Baroque got reflected in the architecture of a large number of churches in the city of the middle of the 18thcentury, but with a number of unique features. The style is called Siberian Baroque.
Frequent fires in wooden cities of the past did not spare Tobolsk. Only in the second half of the 18thcentury in Tobolsk first residential stone buildingsbegan to appear, usually two-storied. Initially only wealthy merchants could afford stone houses. Gradually, though, stone construction spread around the city. Part of the stone buildings became public buildings, but they still remain a part of the old city.
The style of stone buildings in Tobolsk has features of the Siberian Baroque, while later or reconstructed buildings were built in the classical style. Other architectural styles are quite common in Tobolsk, but they do not dominate in the city.
Gates of Tobolsk saw many famous Russians. Among them there was priest Avvakum (the leader of the Old Believers, who didn’t accept the church reform), progressive people of their time, writers and poets, such as Radischev and Fonvizin. Already during the Soviet rule the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II was sent into exile to Tobolsk. Each of the famous exiles brought something new to the city.
Incidentally, Tobolsk is the birthplace of the great Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev who created the periodic system of elements. Also, the famous Russian painter Vasily Perov was born in Tobolsk.
By the end of the 17thcentury in Tobolsk it was decided to build a stone kremlin which could withstand fires. The first stone building of Tobolsk Kremlin was laid in 1700.
Gradually, all the buildings of Tobolsk Kremlin were erected. About 30 buildings have survived to this day. The walls of Tobolsk Kremlin were restored in the 20thcentury.
The oldest building in Tobolsk Kremlin is the Sofia-Uspensky Cathedral (1680s). The Sofia-Uspensky Cathedral is also is the oldest stone building in Russian Siberia.
A magnificent bell tower done in the classical style is the tallest building in Tobolsk to this day.
On the territory of Tobolsk Kremlin there is a museum complex, whose collection holds more than 300,000 artifacts.
It was reported about hidden underground facilitiesand underground passages under Tobolsk Kremlin. The purpose of the underground tunnels was likely defensive. But the facilities had a less pleasant purpose – they most likely used to imprison political undesirables at the time who did not get to the prison yard. They were kept in total obscurity.
Two of the most well-known fact about Tobolsk Kremlin: Tobolsk Kremlin is the only stone kremlin in Siberia, built to secure the region borders for Russia; and the fact that Tobolsk Kremlin has never been under a siege.