Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia
A place of exileLace made of wood. Traditional Siberian architecture. Irkutsk surprised me with its charm, the natural setting and the architecture. It’s also a very fun word to say. Homes like this are sometimes called Decembrist style for those who may have lived in them, exiles to Siberia. Irkutsk—the functional capital of Siberia—has been a place of exile since Genghis Khan offered captives Irkutsk or death. Czarist and Bolshevik exiles ended up here when their slave labor terms ended. A few of the old wooden houses remain, and many of the USSR-era concrete blocks. I was told that some people in Siberia believe that Stalin was a better leader than Khrushchev because under Khrushchev’s regime the size of kitchens was reduced to where you could—and had to—reach everything without moving.