You haven’t seen Tomsk and the best panorama view of the Tom River until you’ve visited Lagerny Garden. And it’s not just a garden, it’s a place to commemorate those who fell during World War 2. A memorial to fighting and labor glory known as the Eternal Fire is located right in its center. Over the last couple of years, the park has become much prettier and cozier thanks to many nice alleys and benches. However, this didn’t scare off local inhabitants – tame squirrels that you can feed nuts out from your hand. And if you want to get down to the water, take one of the many paved paths going downhill. On the waterfront, you can find a sports ground and a stage where concerts and city events take place.
Novosobornya square is where all main festivals are held. There are many sites here, including the central fountain, Alley of Heroes, and the monument to Saint Tatiana, a patroness of students. It’s a great place to take a walk, play Frisbee, or have a picnic with your friends. Opposite the square is the main building of Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radioelectronics. The square is also right next to the City Garden where the local amusement park is situated. Citizens of Tomsk often come here, with friends and families, to walk along its alleys, ride roller coasters, or have a snack on a bench. Besides, there is a small pond where ducks and fish live. And if you want to post a photo on your Instagram, the park features lots of interesting photo zones.
Tomsk State University
The first university beyond the Urals and the origin of all local universities – that’s TSU, which was founded in 1878. And it’s just one of the reasons to visit this place in the city center. You won’t get bored, that’s for sure. The main building is surrounded by a large grove with shady alleys. This place is a home for squirrels, so don’t forget to fill your pockets with nuts. You can also find several monuments and ancient stone figures scattered around. Those are called “stone wives” but don’t get confused – they are actually men. The main building is quite an amusing place too with its dozen museums. From a mammoth skeleton, peculiar plants, and Red Listed birds to rare minerals and antique books – the collection is truly impressive. To see it, join a guided tour, but be sure to sign up in advance (call 8 3822 52-98-34). And having observed everything, you can head to the Siberian Botanical Garden.
The Siberian Botanical Garden
The local botanical garden is the first of its kind beyond the Ural mountains. It’s also one of the largest in Siberia with its area of 31 hectares. By the way, one of the glasshouses is 102 ft high, which puts it on the list of the highest ones in the world. The garden consists of 4 tropical houses and 2 glasshouses and features 18 different microclimate systems. This way, you can yourself in the tropical jungles no matter the season. Some rare and ancient plant species can also be found here. For instance, ficus radicans, the Kentia palm, and the bunya pine. These plants are about 135 years old. The outside territory is rather cozy and ideal for walking. There are numerous paths, bridges, stone walls, and, of course, varied flora. Even though this is a research facility, you can come here on a guided group tour. It is held on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 52 98 16 to sign up.
The Tom River Promenade and the Monument to Chekhov
In the very center of the city is Little Tomsk Arbat, a favorite recreational spot of residents and tourists. Every day, thousands of people gather here. They come to the river to meet sunrises and see off sunsets, walk with kids, or have a date. Local musicians give their gigs here while everyone could play an old outdoor piano. One of the regular local festivals is Chekhov Fridays that are held in summer. Russian writer Anton Chekhov himself is a famous tenant of the promenade. He visited Tomsk once and left a few cutting remarks. In return, Tomsk citizens set up a monument called “Anton Chekhov as seen through the eyes of a drunken peasant, lying in a ditch, who has never read ‘Kashtanka’". If you look closer, you can see how Chekhov’s nose glitters in the sun. That’s because rubbing it is said to bring good luck. No wonder it’s polished to the bone.
This is the place where the city started. In 1604, the prince of local Tatars named Tayan invited cossacks to help them against aggressive neighbors. The cossacks built a wooden fortress and fought side by side with the Tatars against the raiders. Together, the Tatars and Russians managed to repel several desperate attacks and defend the fortress. This is why this place was chosen to found the capital of Siberia – the city of Tomsk. In return for their friendship, local people were relieved of taxes. You can enjoy a beautiful view of the city, especially when standing at the viewing point that used to be a former fire tower. At the top of the tower is firefighter Afanasy – the symbol of protection of Tomsk. The best way to go downhill from the mountain is Oktyabrsky Road. On your way down, you can see the stunning Church of the Resurrection, built in the Siberian Barocco style, and the impressive Tzar Bell.
The House with a Hipped Roof
A real masterpiece of wooden architecture that Tomsk residents called “a house with a hipped roof”. Besides, it’s an architectural monument of federal importance. Now, it is used as the Russian-German House, a center of the cultural life of Tomsk Germans. The building is surrounded by a small park where you can walk or have a rest on a bench. However, if you feel like learning more about the building’s history and German culture or want to see a local exhibition, come on in. After the excursion, you will be invited to attend a “merchant’s tea party” and a photo session inside the house.
The Emerald City House
The mansion of a Russian architect Homich is perhaps the most decorated building in Tomsk. With its sky-piercing spire, intricate bay windows, and laced balconies it looks as if it came from a fairy tale. Even if you are not into wooden architecture, it’s hard to take your eyes off the building. You can spend hours examining its details. Urban legend has it that this is the building that inspired Alexander Volkov to write a fairy tale about Emerald City. It was when the writer was living in Tomsk and translating L. Frank Baum’s Oz that the green color became a popular choice for the city’s roofs and fences.
The Professor’s Apartment Museum
This is another peculiar place in Tomsk. Located in the Art Nouveau wooden house, the museum recreates the professorate's living of the early 20th century in great detail. From the furniture and photographs to newspapers and stationery – everything makes you feel immersed in the atmosphere of the authentic Russian intelligentsia of the days long gone. As if the floor is going to squeak under the owner’s slippers at any moment. Moreover, it’s an interactive museum, unlike more traditional ones. You can walk around the apartment, touch and examine things, and no one will shush you.
The Ushayka River Promenade
If going for a walk in the fresh air is your thing, then the Ushayka promenade is perfect for you, especially after it was renovated in 2019. Restoration near the Stone Bridge is complete, but there is still a lot to do. Residents and tourists can enjoy a walking space with access to the water, a large amphitheater for outdoor concerts, and a few viewing points. The walls are quite peculiar too. It’s a wavy 75 ft structure with the basement hidden underground. By the way, the Ushayka is a home for ducks, which residents often feed with crumbs. So if you feel like joining, bring some fresh bread with you.
Puppet Theater 2+ky
Visiting Tomsk and not going to this theater is a big mistake. For many years, it’s been a place where the magic happens and a home to living wooden puppets. They can move their mouths, eyes, and fingers thanks to a special device invented by Vladimir Zakharov, the theater’s founder. Plays are on all year round, on Fridays and Saturdays. However, you need to sign up in advance since there are only about 80 seats available. As soon as the hall is full, the doors are closed and the performance begins. The theater itself is like a house from a fairy tale. Inside, you can find an elf house, owls, and a stage forest with a cute squirrel. After the play, you can attend a tea party on a cozy terrace.
The Museum of Wooden Architecture
This is one of a few Siberian museums of such a kind. Wood in Ancient Rus always was an easy-to-get building material. That’s why wooden architecture is a historic and cultural heritage. Wooden buildings are an embodiment of the experience and aesthetic ideals of dozens of Russian generations. The wooden architecture of Tomsk is its important part. While you can see a lot of wooden buildings in the city, such craft is also displayed at the museum. The exhibition, which has been ongoing for over 10 years, features window casings, pilasters, molding, and other samples of wooden decorations.
The First Museum of Slavic Mythology
Everyone knows Homer’s Iliad. However, few are familiar with myths and legends of Slavic culture. So if you want to enrich your background knowledge, we advise you to visit this fascinating museum. Here you can see works of various artists, representing Slavic and Russian history, myths, legends, fairy tales, and traditions. Besides, the museum hosts guided tours, handicraft workshops, and interesting thematic events. If the weather is good, you can get to the roof to enjoy a beautiful view of Tomsk or have a romantic evening. On your way out, be sure to drop by a souvenir shop and buy something unusual as a memento.