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2012 Jul by Veikko Huhtala*
We had flight from Moscow Domodedovo Airport to Omsk by Siberia Airlines. In Omsk there are more than one million people. When we arrived, there were some big fires somewhere in the oblast and the sky was very smoky. It was difficult even to see sun. We slept one night in Ibis Hotel and next morning we started our train journey to Barnaul. |
2009 Oct by Mikhail Rybochkin
In the recent years I drove past Omsk four times. This time driving from Novosibirsk to Tobolsk I decided to stay overnight and to see the city's main attractions. Omsk was founded in 1716 and is more attractive than Novosibirsk. The central part has some century-old architecture, monuments and quirky public sculptures. The great Russian writer Fedor Dostoevsky served his 5-year term for subversive activity in local prison. The prison’s office today houses the literature museum mostly dedicated to Dostoevsky’s involuntary stay. |
Some days ago on the way to Altai we stayed overnight at a small motel in the outskirts of Omsk. In the morning before proceeding to Novosibirsk we visited the Achairsky Monastery located 55 km from Omsk. The monastery is a riverside convent founded in 1905. In the 1920s closed and turned into a gulag camp. The camp functioned 16 years and took a heavy toll of 200,000 human lives. The monastery was restored in early 1990s. A peculiar feature of the monastery which makes it special and highly advisable to visit is a baptistery filled with warm mineral water flowing from the depth of 1168 m. Visitors are free to soak in the baptistery.
I found no traces or mention of gulag but in fact we were after the self christening first of all. Having arrived before 9 a.m., we found the entire monastery at our disposal, the baptistery was also unoccupied. Soon two Omsk women joined us in the baptistery saying that by noon the baptistery would not be able to admit all suffering believers who were flocking the monastery from all around Omsk oblast.
The water flowing from the sacred source is clear but to my taste is not good to drink. It slightly smells and tastes hydrogen sulfide. However this fact does not stop believers from filling 5 liter plastic bottles for take-away purposes. We couldn’t resist taking away 10 liters of sacred water as well and used it to wash hands and the windshield throughout the trip.
The senior nun at the entrance gate actively sells miscellaneous religious trifles including women’s swimming gowns for bathing in the baptistery.
Yeastless bread from the convent’s bakery is highly advisable. Our experience shows that it keeps freshness and taste absolutely unchanged for 5 days.
More photos of Omsk, Novosibirsk, Tobolsk, Abalak Monastery, Achairsky Monastery, Museum of Grigory Rasputin can be seen here:
2009 Sep by Jorge Sanchez
Omsk was a surprise for me. I had transited that town by train many times, and during half an hour or so had visited the surroundings of the railway station.|
But in the year 2009 I thought that half an hour for an Oblast was not enough, of course, if you are an honest traveller, and I wanted to see something more substantial of the town, so I allowed one full day to visit the city, from early morning to the evening, when darkness fell.
First I asked the local people for the downtown and the main tourist attractions that I could visit (I never carry tourist “guides”).
A woman informed me that the downtown was very far away, on the right side of the railway station, at about 4 kilometres distance, and suggested me to catch a bus, instead of walk, what I did because it started to rain. Inside the trolleybus I asked the conductor, a nice woman, and she instructed me where to get off and what to see along the street Lenin.
The first interesting thing that I saw was two famous and funny brass statues, one of front of the other, that have become a small symbol of the town. One was a lady called Liyba, and the other was a man working in a drain.
But the main purpose of my visit to Omsk was to collect historical information in the form of monuments or street names about Alexander Kolchak, an Explorer of the Arctic Ocean (one island in the Arctic, in the Kara Sea, still bears his name, Kolchak).
But since he was anticommunist, today only an Irish pub, called Kolchak. He was killed in Irkutsk by the Bolsheviks, and as I leant thanks to some students who helped me during my visit in Omsk giving me information, Kolchak, who was born in Saint Petersburg, only has a statue devoted to him in that city, plus another one in Irkutsk, where he was killed by the Bolsheviks.
Apart from the Irish pub advertisement, I also saw a memorial in a central square where some plaques criticized him and the White Guard for having killed one hundred and twenty Russian Communists plus fifteen Internationalists from Hungry in Omsk. But those plaques did not say anything about the millions and millions of innocent people (perhaps 100 millions) that the Communist ideology assassinated during the years that was implanted on the Soviet Union, and the crimes against Humankind in the form of Gulags or the Holodomor in Ukraine.
It was Monday and therefore the museum was closed. I judged that visiting that museum did not justify staying one day longer in Omsk, especially since I guesses that the history is still falsified regarding the Mensheviks. During a couple of hours I saw three Lenin statues; many Lenin statues for a town of about one million people, I thought.
So, Omsk, because it was the capital of the Mensheviks, now it had to justify that it was a mistake, and its people are more communist minded than the rest of Russian cities.
The students who helped me pointed me out two monuments dedicated to Dostoevsky, who was exiled in Omsk area where he suffered a lot, having tragic experiences, a stone devoted to the victims of the Stalin repression. And further down, by the river Irtish, I visited the old wooden fortress erected at the beginning of the XVIII century (in September 2009 it was still being reconstructed).
In the way back to the railway station I walked, stopping in so many other places that were interesting, like the amusing monument of Don Quixote, the stunning building of the theatre, or the great Cathedral, located in a central square, where I assisted to the lovely and intimate Gregorian chants by the monks and sisters that lifted my soul.
Back in the railway station I was exulted; that visit to Omsk had really been great and given me a lot of knowledge and pleasure.
After Omsk I headed to Perm.