Volkonsky House-Museum

Lonely Planet review

The well-preserved home of Decembrist Count Sergei Volkonsky, whose wife Maria Volkonskaya cuts the main figure in Christine Sutherland’s unputdownable book The Princess of Siberia, is a small mansion set in a scruffy courtyard with stables, a barn and servant quarters. In the decade leading up to the Volkonskys return to St Petersburg in 1856, the house was the epicentre of Irkutsk cultural life, with balls, musical soirées and parties attended by wealthy merchants and the governor of Eastern Siberia himself. Today the slightly over-renovated downstairs piano room, upstairs photo exhibition – including portraits of Maria and other women who romantically followed their husbands and lovers into exile – and other displays of everyday objects used by the family tell the story of their time in Irkutsk.