September 20, 2019 We leave Lake Baikal this morning and transfer to Irkutsk for one more night in this beautiful region. Our guide introduces us to the highlights of the city, and after lunch we check into our city-center hotel for a free evening. Here are a few of the places we visited today.

Carved rock outside the Epiphany Cathedral showing the original fort.
Monument to the Cossack pioneer Yakov Pokhabov, who is considered the founder of Irkutsk, on the embankment of the Angara River. Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia.
Toto Tourists at the Eternal Flame honoring the dead from World War II.
Statue of General Alexander Kolchak. During the Russian Civil War, he established an anti-communist government in Siberia—later the Provisional All-Russian Government—and was recognised as the “Supreme Leader and Commander-in-Chief of All Russian Land and Sea Forces” by the other leaders of the White movement from 1918 to 1920. For nearly two years, Kolchak was Russia’s internationally recognized head of state. However, his effort to unite the White Movement failed. As his White forces fell apart, he was betrayed and captured by the Czechoslovak Legion who handed him over to local Socialists-Revolutionaries, and he was soon after executed by the Bolsheviks in Irkutsk. The soldiers represent the White Army (left) and the Red Army (right) fighting during the civil war.
Sigh Monastery, also known as the Znamensky Monastery.
I get a kitty fix today – first one since St. Petersburg! This cutie was begging for attention, rubbing everyone’s legs.
Garden at the Sigh Monastery.
Statue of Grigory Shelikhov, who discovered Alaska in 1784 and founded a Russian colony in Three Saints Bay on Kodiak Island. It is on the grounds of the Sigh Monastery.
Magnificent Kazan Church in Irkutsk.
Main iconostasis at Kazan Church. Many flowers for a wedding today.
The bride and groom are having photos taken before the wedding.
A man is teaching his son how to make the sign of the cross and genuflect before an icon.
In the early 19th century, many Russian artists, officers, and nobles were sent into exile in Siberia for their part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. Irkutsk became the major center of intellectual and social life for these exiles, and much of the city’s cultural heritage comes from them; many of their wooden houses, adorned with ornate, hand-carved decorations, survive today, in stark contrast with the standard Soviet apartment blocks that surround them.
Entrance to the Jewish Synagogue in Irkutsk. 1879 is the year a fire destroyed most of the city, and this Synagogue was rebuilt.
Interior view of the Irkutsk Synagogue.
Lions holding up the scripture in the Irkutsk Synagogue.
Full exterior view of the Synagogue in Irkutsk. Our guide tells us there are fewer than 200,000 Jews remaining in Russia.

I’ve come down with a nasty chest cold, so during free time I head to the pharmacy for some meds. We’re checking out of our hotel at 6am tomorrow morning to continue our train journey, so it will be an early night! But first a twilight walk to get a bite to eat and some supplies for the train tomorrow.

Twilight walk in Irkutsk. Never felt safer walking on my own.
Twilight walk in Irkutsk.
Twilight walk in Irkutsk.
Twilight walk in Irkutsk.

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