What does a city boasting some of Siberia’s most impressive original timber architecture do to improve the visitor experience? Yes, that’s right, recreate an entire quarter of yet more wooden buildings, some transported here from other locations, some fake. The unromantically named 130 Kvartal south of the Raising of the Cross Church is nonetheless a pleasant place to stroll, packed with restaurants, cafes and commercial museums, and culminating in Eastern Siberia’s only real 21st-century (and quite impressive) shopping mall.
Guarding the entrance to this timber theme park is a monster bronze babr, the mythical beast that features on Irkutsk's municipal coat of arms. The spot has become a popular place to have that ‘I’ve been to Irkutsk’ photo taken.