Decembrist Museum

Top choice in Eastern Siberia

If you’re on the Decembrist trail through Siberia, this small but comprehensive museum is one of the best. It’s housed in the 18th-century Archangel Michael log church, an unexpected sight amid the neighbourhood’s shambolic apartment blocks. Inextricably linked to the Decembrist story, this was where they came to pray, where Annenkov married his French mistress Pauline Geuble and where the Volkonskys buried their daughter Sofia. Signs are in Russian only, but an English-language audio guide is available for R70.

The ground-level exhibition begins with the names of all the Decembrists picked out in gold on a green background, followed by interesting items such as the original imperial order sentencing the noble rebels to banishment in Siberia and oils showing their leaders’ executions. The 2nd floor looks at the wives who followed their menfolk into the Nerchinsk silver mines and the fates of all the Decembrists once they were allowed to settle where they pleased. Some of them lived long enough to feature as elderly, but rather stylish and optimistic-looking gentlemen, in black-and-white photographs displayed at the end of the exhibition.

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