Irkutsk is the largest city in Baikal region, the sixth largest city in Siberia. The population of Irkutsk is about 650 thousand people. Irkutsk was founded in 1661 by Yakov Pokhabov.
For a long time Irkutsk was considered as a merchant city, as it had been prospering for a long time due to trade with China and gold mining. In addition, Irkutsk was a place for political prison (the most famous example is the Decembrists). Despite the fact that trade with China is still at a high level, 80% of people work in a service sector, machine building and food products are also developed. As for the political prisons in Irkutsk, they closed in the 20th century, and today people come to Irkutsk only by their own will :)
There are 107 institutions of culture and art work in Irkutsk. The historical center of the city (wooden houses, churches, cathedrals, stone buildings, embankments, monuments) is under protection of UNESCO.