Four UNESCO World Heritage sites you may never have even heard of
By Jack Stacey
18 April 2018
There's nothing which quite imbues us with existentialist wonder as an ancient monument from a lost civilisation.Read more
Irkutsk is one of largest and best-known cities in Siberia. It takes its name from the nearby Irkut River, which meets the mighty, 1,640-feet-wide (580 metres) Angara River close to the city. Surrounded by dense forest lands, Irkutsk was founded in 1661 as a fort to colonise lands stretching right through Siberia to Alaska. Though little is known about the place from that time, it gained notoriety in the early 19th century, when many Russian nobles, artists and officers were sent into exile in the city for taking part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I.
Being so far from most of Russia's major centres of commerce and communication, it was felt that Irkutsk was remote and removed enough for the rebels to be not only punished, but also to prevent them from managing a successful uprising. Many of the Decembrists thrived in exile, and chose to remain in Irkutsk even when Tsar Alexander II restored their rights and granted them amnesty in 1856.
From the arrival of the Decembrists onwards, Irkutsk became the major spot for social and intellectual life for these exiles. Much of the city's cultural heritage came from them, and today many of their wooden houses, adorned with hand-carved decorations survive - in stark contrast with apartment blocks that surround them. In 1970 the former home of key Decembrist Sergei Trubestkoy was restored and opened as a museum commemorating the movement, and their influence on Irkutsk.
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Let the Tsar's Gold Train take you on an incredible adventure across almost half of the surface of the world from the ornate splendor of Moscow to the bustling beauty of modern Beijing, through remote Siberia, beautiful Mongolia and the vast landscapes of the Gobi Desert.… see more
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Beginning and ending in London, we travel just under 23,000 miles across the globe on this incredible worldwide adventure. Starting in the iconic 'Big Apple', we chart a course across the heartland of America, to the West Coast. From there, we cross the Pacific into Asia and immerse ourselves in the rich legacies of China, before boarding the iconic Tsar's Gold Train for the journey across Russia. For the final leg of the journey, we head into central Europe, south through the imperial cities to Venice, boarding the luxurious Simplon-Orient- Express for the journey home.
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