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We left Lystvyanka and returned to Irkutsk for a one night stay in a 150 year old house that Lonely Planet highlights as a tourist attraction in their "Russia" guidebook. The house is a fine example of Russian architecture, wood everything, an ornate wooden lace skirt around the roof edges, large and elaborate shutters that frame many high windows facing the street. Beside it is an example of Siberian architecture, also a wood cabin, the main difference shown in the lack of front windows in the second floor women's quarters which face the inner courtyard. Irkutsk was once the capital of all Siberia including Alaska, called the American district of Irkutsk in the days of Russian ownership. Although Irkutsk is a modern city with a large population, 800,000 people, we saw that the skyline isn't crowded by tall buildings. Constant earthquakes stop construction of any structure over 12 storeys. Irkutsk's key characteristic, a city center dominated by wood cabins instead of skyscapers, impressed us. It's fitting that a Siberian city should have large neighborhoods of wood cabins holding their ground against the encroachment of concrete apartments or strip malls, even if some of these cabins are completely disheveled and on the verge of collapse.
We stayed at the house on the left which is built with the Russian style of wooden lace. The house on the right is built with the Siberian style which has the second floor windows in back, facing the courtyard.
Irkutsk is a strange blend of modern and old architecture.