Capital of Irkutsk Region
It was founded as a Siberian stockaded town by pathfinder Yakov Pokhabov. The increase of wealth in the city is owed to the fur trade, which flourished after the active cancellation of the state monopoly in 1762. Trade with China also passed through Irkutsk, which contributed to strengthening the political role of the city. In 1764, it became the capital of Irkutsk province.
Later, Irkutsk earned the epithet of the "capital of Lena gold". Gold production in the Lena basin began in the mid-19th century.
Now Irkutsk is large transport hub and educational centre. Nearly one in six residents of the city is a student or teacher. The remaining five-sixths are employed in other industries, lead by aircraft and heavy machinery construction.
Road cyclist Aleksandr Bocharov, pole vaulter and winner of the Olympic Games in Moscow Konstantin Volkov, and boxer and Olympic medalist in Atlanta Albert Pakeev, were born in Irkutsk.
Irkutsk merchant Shelikhov was one of the initiators of the formation of the Russian-American company: a semi-state enterprise engaged in economic development of the western coast of North America.
In 1890, the city was visited by Anton Chekhov, who refered to Irkutsk as an "intelligent city". Other epithets that have been applied to Irkutsk are "Paris of the East", "Siberian Athens", and "Siberian Petersburg".
Pianist Denis Matsuev, Ambassador of the Olympic Games in Sochi, was born in Irkutsk. Irkutsk annually holds the "Stars on Baikal" music festival, managed by Matsuev.
Furthermore, directors Natalya Sats, Mikhail Romm, Ivan Vyrypaev and Nikolay Okhlopkov (Irkutsk Drama Theatre is named after him), and writer Andrey Gelasimov were born in the city.
Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek, author of Švejk, lived in Irkutsk from 1918 to 1920. In this city, the writer even bought a house, in which he never actually lived. There is a street named in Irkutsk after Jaroslav Hašek
The coat of arms of Irkutsk depicts a now non-existent species of tiger, which Russian immigrants called "babr".
Citizens from foreign countries taking part in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay:
- Denis Matsuev finished the Olympic torch relay in Irkutsk
Irkutsk, 24.11.2013 14:07The next stage of the national Olympic Torch Relay came to an end in Irkutsk. On Sunday the symbol of the Olympics "Sochi - 2014" marched through the main streets and sights of the capital of the Irkutsk region.
- The torch relay of the XXII Olympic Games in 2014 began in Irkutsk
Irkutsk, 24.11.2013 08:06The first torchbearer of the fire of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014 went through the administrative center of the Irkutsk region.