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Photo: Angela Franke
A first look on the map will tell you that there is quite a number of churches in Irkutsk. Therefore, it is not too far-fetched to call this city the "Jerusalem of the East", since there are many religions present, whereas the rest of Russia is mainly Russian orthodox. Besides catholic and protestant churches you will find Russian orthodox ones, as well as a synagogue and a mosque. There are also several sacred sites of the shamans which can be found outside the city. Even if the architecture of most of the buildings is not very impressive, their mere existence gives evidence for the eventful history of Irkutsk.
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photo: Angela Franke
Well-known among tourists is the Kirov Square, wherefrom you will already see the Square of the Three Churches. Next to the orthodox cathedral theres one of the oldest churches of the city: the Redeemers Church, built in 1706. The citys only Polish church (built in 1881) once was used as a cinema and is a concert hall with the only organ throughout Siberia (the organ is from the former GDR) nowadays.
Near the Lenin Square on top of a small hill another famous church can be found which was built between 1747 and 1758 and which is the onliest church in town which has remained intact.
photo: Ralf Hesse
Another impressive building is the Kazan Church which unfortunately has not been opened to public, yet. Outside the city centre, located at the Angara, is a convent which was established in 1693. It was the first institution only for women within Irkutsk and became an important religious centre in the Baikal region during the following years.