Irkutsk is a village that tries very, very hard to be a city, and for that reason, it is near and dear to my heart. It is easily one of my favorite Russian cities and a place I would highly recommend visiting for anyone interested in the country.
Upon first glance, I was unimpressed. I’ve never seen sidewalks in worse condition or stores that made less of an attempt to look appealing. It seemed like a dull, shabby sort of place, until I looked more closely.
In Irkutsk more than any other Russian city I’ve been to, there’s an energy on the streets. Public places are full of young families, college students, old, married couples, and people just generally enjoying their time in the sun.
The best of Irkutsk is in the details.
Especially in the details of the crumbling, century-old traditional houses that you can find all over the city, around every street corner and tucked in-between buildings a fraction of their age.
I learned a new meaning of “be aware of your surroundings”.