Dobro pozhalovat’ v Sibiri – Welcome to Siberia
As you can see I am trying to improve my Russian, it grows slowly but having a lot of fun trying out what I do know. I am currently taking a couple of days break from the train and finding my land legs again or should I say snow and ice legs. Seriously cold here, for me that is, locals tell me it’s not that bad, -15 is cold to my way of thinking.
I am here in the cold to visit a couple of teaching colleagues who are on an exchange visit to a local university here in Tyumen. The oldest Russian city in Siberian Asian and currently one of the wealthiest due to the discovery of oil and gas fields in the 1960’s. I was surprised to discover that this is a center for higher education with over 10 academies and 3 universities, education & students are counted as one of the city’s main economic resources.
Whilst first impression had me seeing Tyumen as a modern built city, with it high rises and business centers, further exploration, carefully by car I might add, saw some nice examples of historic buildings and architecture. I was told the that the nickname for the city was Capital of Villages as it was built on a collection of lumber houses, architecturally it appears very eclectic but interesting. Unfortunately a little too cold to do much sightseeing. I was determined to visit the old capital of Siberia whilst I was here, Tobolsk.
The Trans Siberian Railway line is south of Tobolsk and when built the city reverted to a provincial town but the 17th and 18th century architecture of when it was the regions capital is certainly worth seeing. The town is basically in three segments, an new area that replicates similar towns elsewhere, a rather dilapidated area near the river and the historical area. It is here you will find the Kremlin, a fortress of white walls and towers, churches and palatial residences.
Visiting it in the snow was quite magical, you could imagine tales of princesses and heroes centering around it, well worth the effort to get here. Travelling to Tobolsk from Tyumen there were several options, car, bus or train or typically Russian shared car. Due to the snowfall and state of the road I decided the train was my better option. I took a very early train and after a journey of about 4 hrs I was there, spent the day and returned in the evening, a very long day but worth it. If I visited again I would stay overnight to see some of the sites I did not have time to see like the monastery of St John on the towns outskirts.