Come to Tomsk if you want to visit one of the oldest Siberian cities, see firsthand wooden-lace architecture, experience the joyful and intellectual atmosphere of a university town and simply feel yourself lost in the boundless spaces of Russia.
Why visit Tomsk. Founded in 1604, Tomsk was first an outpost for the trade routes heading to the east for many years up until the founding of Novosibirsk. Early in the 19 century, Tomsk became the center of the golden rush, attracting hundreds of merchants and entrepreneurs, who invested a lot in the development of science in Siberia. Thus, Tomsk State University, the first educational institution in Siberia, was born, as the golden rush legacy. And it was just the beginning!
Today, Tomsk accounts for 9 universities, 15 R&D organizations, 6 business incubators, a special economic zone and even a nuclear research reactor.
No wonder, it has a joyful atmosphere and is filled with hopes, enthusiasm and youth, as according to local authorities, every fifth resident of the city is a student!
Best time to visit Tomsk. Most tourists agree that the city is the prettiest in winter, when the streets are blanketed with snow and the famous wooden-lace houses remind of fairy tales. However, it gets really cold in winter, even by Russian standards: the temperatures fall below -30°C for two long months. There isn’t much to do outside, except for, maybe, taking once-in-a-lifetime pics? In summer, the city goes all empty, as the students enjoy holidays at home or travel. My favourite time to visit the city is autumn: the school year has just started, students are still full of hopes and energy, and the trees are turning from green to gold and red and are simply gorgeous.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
-17.2° -16° -7.7° 1.6° 9.8° 16.3° 19.4° 16.2° 10.2° 1.3° -8.8° -15.2°
Things to see in Tomsk.
Four universities within 1.5 km. Walk down the Lenina street and feel the atmosphere of a university town. Don’t miss the chance to visit the gorgeous buildings of Tomsk Polytechnic and State universities: you can go inside without any problem.
The Chekhov sculpture. This amusing and even cheeky monument stands on the banks of the Tom River, a picturesque place in itself, and has a story to tell. Anton Chekhov, one of the greatest writers of short fiction in history, once visited Tomsk, wasn’t pleased and expressed his disappointment in writing: “an incredibly boring city…. the people are incredibly boring… the city is full of drunks… endlessly muddy… the maid at the local tavern wiped my spoon on her butt before giving it to me… The dinners here are excellent, unlike the women who are rough to the touch…” Citizens of Tomsk didn’t lag behind, and erected a statue with the following caption: “Anton Chekhov as seen through the eyes of a drunken peasant, lying in a ditch, who has never read ‘Kashtanka’.” It is believed that if you scrub the writer’s nose, a lucky encounter is about to happen soon.
Lagerny sad. This huge park frames the city in the south and is a favorite place of many students to relax after school. You can enjoy a breathtaking view over the Tom River and leave the city for some fresh air.
Voskresenskaya Mountain. On top of the “mountain”, you can see a stone monument with a golden plate. The city construction started from this very spot in 1604, and today it is a must-visit place. Nearby, there is a fortress with a few sights to see. The mountain offers an incredible view over the city rooftops.
NKVD Memorial Museum of Political Repression History. For anybody even remotely interested in the Soviet history, this place is a must-see. First a parochial school building, it was then transformed into prison to keep politically repressed people, thousands of whom were executed by shooting.
The German-Russian House. It looks like a picture from a fairy tale coming to life, especially in winter, being a fine example of wooden-lace architecture. Originally built for a rich merchant, today the building is the official cultural residence of the Russian Germans, hosting multiple festivals, meetings and seminars.
The house with dragons. Built in 1917, this house is another great example of wooden architecture, but this time without “lace”. Its roof is crowned with seven dragons, facing different directions. This architectural wonder was built for another rich merchant who specifically asked for a unique house, as the story tells. Today the building hosts a medical center.