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Introducing Minusinsk

Minusinsk's scattering of partly derelict 18th- and 19th-century buildings offers more architectural interest than Abakan, and its riverside houses can look picturesque when very selectively photographed. The old section is 25km east of Abakan across the protoka Minusinskaya waterway from new-town Minusinsk's domineering concrete blandness. Jump off buses 120 or 10 beside the elegant 1803 Saviour's Cath- edral (Spasskoe sobor; ul Komsomolskaya 10) and cross the square to find the excellent Martyanov Museum (20752; ul Martyanova 6; admission R50; 10am-6pm Wed-Sun). Over a century old, highlights include splendid archaeological and cultural exhibits, and the preserved little library in which Lenin occasionally studied while genteelly exiled at Shushenskoe. The museum's gift shop sells town maps.

One block along ul Lenina then two blocks northeast up ul Kravchenko is overgrown pl Lenina, dotted with crumbling mansions including the gutted Vilner Palace (ul Oktyabrskaya 65) with maudlin echoes of former grandeur. A block southwest, the complex of wooden buildings where Lenin was a regular guest (1897-1900) is now a museum (ul Oktyabrskaya 73; admission R25; 10am-1pm & 2-5pm Tue-Sun).

The award-winning 1882 Drama Theatre (ul Podinskaya 75) is a block northwest of the cathedral, hidden behind an old factory.

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