Barnaul is almost equal in population to another city in Siberia, Tyumen – at 632,784 residents (2014), and it is among the five biggest cities in Siberia.
The city was founded in 1730 as a factory settlement for the silver production of Russian businessman Akinfiy of the famous Demidov dynasty.
Interestingly, Russians are the majority population of Barnaul. In a distant second place are … Germans.
What you should see in Barnaul:
Barnaul Ribbon Forests
Ribbon forests are unique forest formations that stretch along rivers as bands of 5 to 40 kilometers wide. Barnaul ribbon forest has a length of more than 550 km: from Barnaul and further along the Ob River to the Irtysh River.
In the Altai region there are only four ribbon forests, and they run parallel to each other.
According to a hypothesis of scientists during a severe cold spell glaciers came to Altai. After the end of the ice age melt water has brought a large amount of sand to the riverbeds. And since the glacier didn’t leave yet, there was a wide spill of rivers that distributed the sand around the surrounding areas. And on those sands later pine trees grew forming ribbon forests.
Demidov pillar is an obelisk that was mounted on the orders of Demidovnot far from the factory’s almshousein honor of the 100th anniversary of mining industry in the Altai (1839).
Demidov pillar is made of solid blocks of gray granite.
During the Bolshevik Revolution, it was decided to dismantle the obelisk and use its stones to make a monument to those who died for the revolution. Any attempts to destroy the pillar or carveon the pedestal the names of the fallen were in vain – granite withstood the onslaught and the pillar remained in its place.
State Art Museum of Altai Krai
The museum was replenished by the works from of the Russian Museum, the Hermitage, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Museum of History and others, as well as by auction purchases and special field trips.
The museum has a remarkable collection (more than 14,000 items) that covers:
Orthodox church art of 16th – 20th centuries, Russian art of 18th – 20th centuries, professional and folk art of Siberia and Altai of 18th – 21st centuries.
The inner space of the museum was transformed to become the most comfortable environment for visitors.
Irkutsk is the fifth most populous Siberian city (612,973 people in 2014).
The city was founded on the Irkut River in 1661 – a fort was set there. In 1879, the city center was almost completely destroyed by the Great fire. After the fire, the era of building stone houses began.
Irkutsk is located near the famous Lake Baikal. Many tourists perceive Irkutsk as a transit city.
Nevertheless, it is worth exploring the masterpieces of wooden architecture in Irkutsk. The most famous building is the Lace house (the House of the Shastins), but there are more wooden buildings in Irkutsk. The city center is filled with houses decorated with intricate wooden details. You should definitely spend on those streets at least a few hoursto feel the atmosphere of the old Siberian town.
Among the stone buildings particularly interesting are the Prince Vladimir Monastery (1888) and the Church of the Epiphany (1718-1746).
Spasskaya Church – the Cathedral of Christ the Savior
The Church of the Saviorwas one of the first stone buildings in the city. It is built in place of an old wooden church (1672) that burned down in 1716.
The church is decorated with paintings from the 19th century – a rarity for Siberian churches. The external painting of the church was restored.
On the eastern façade: the baptism of indigenous peoples, the baptism of Christ, the ceremony of initiation to the saints.
On the southern wall: Christ, St. Nicholas, St. Mitrofan and other saints.
What else to See in Irkutsk
In addition to the landmarks we mentioned, you should also visit a ringed seal aquarium where you can watch fun performances by Baikal ringed seals. Also interesting is the architectural and ethnographic museum “Taltsy” (50 km from Irkutsk). And, of course, make sure to try Baikal ciscoin Irkutsk restaurants.
Novokuznetsk completes the list of the 7 biggest cities in Siberia.
The city was founded around 1617 as the Kuznetsk fort on the shore of the Tomi River.
In the era of industrialization in the Soviet Union, not far from the old fort town, in 1931 a new city was founded – Novokuznetsk.
In honor of Stalin the city was renamed into Stalinduring 1932-1961.
Novokuznetsk is a rather dirty city due to metallurgical enterprises. But not far from the city there is Mountain Shoriya.
Mountain Shoriya is located in the south of the Kemerovo region of Siberia.
Mountain ranges over time got cut up by river beds. Frost, wind and sun smoothed over the surface. Today Mountain Shoriya is combined of picturesque narrow river valleys with rocky shores, soft contoured peaks, numerous caves and grottoes.
Snow-capped peakstower over coniferous taiga (fir, spruce, and cedar).
Very beautiful is the mountain range Mustag (Ice Mountain) that stretches for several dozen kilometers.
Ski resort Sheregesh near the mountain range Mustag
It is not surprising that in winter the Mountain Shoriya, the same as the Swiss Alps, attracts not only amateur skiers, but also ski championships of Russia.
Animal world of the Mountain Shoriya is amazing: Asian red deer, musk deer, roe deer, Siberian reindeer, brown bear … A lot of birds and fish.
Shors, the indigenous people of the Mountain Shoriya knew how to smelt iron from the very old times.
The fortress was built in 1800-1820. Military and political objective of the fortress was deterring aggressive plans by China with regards to Siberia. Later the fortress became a prison for common criminals – up until 1919.