Everyone who has once visited Omsk notices its openness, breadth and peculiarity. The city on the banks of the Irtish and 0m rivers is beautiful and sweeping in a Siberian manner.
A beautiful site was chosen for the new fortress by the Peter the Great guardsman Ivan Buchholz, when in spring of 1716 he and his detachment made a landing on the shore of the free Irtish, in the place where this powerful Siberian river takes the quiet 0m into its broad riverbed. According to the edict of the tsar Peter the Great and his deputy in Siberia prince Gagarin, pioneers erected here the fortification to guard the south Russian borders. Thus was founded the town, which in our days became the largest industrial and cultural center of Siberia.
No trace was left of wooden fortress - primogenitor of the town. But the ancient stone houses and the entrance fortress gates on the right bank of the river 0m, where it flows into the Irtish, still keep the voices of the remote past. Right here in the 1760s, when the wooden buildings of the first Omsk fortress became dilapidated, a new fortification was founded, this time built of stone.
In 1782 the fortress settlement was given the name of a town. Among inhabitants of this town were merchants, artisans, officials, but most people were the military. In 1812 battalions of the 24th Siberian division went to fight with Napoleon. Many of them died the death of brave on the Borodino field. The Shirvansky musketeer regiment units guarding the borders of Omsk fortress also distinguished themselves in the fights with Frenchmen. Later the heros and participants of that war served in Omsk. At different times the post of West Siberian Governor-general was held by P. Kaptsevich and G. Husford.
During that time the town grew considerably, was decorated with gardens and sturdy stone buildings. In the 1820s Omsk was lined with buildings by the project of the famous Russian engineer V.Geste. Since that time the central architectural ensemble of the town began to take shape. One of the Omsk central buildings became the palace of Governor-general. In celebration days the tricolor flag appeared on the tower. From this tower the young town was viewed by many guests - well-known scientists, diplomats and travellers. They could see new squares, wooden houses with mezzanines and galleries, the broad Irtish, ships, fresh green Lyuba's Grove and the fortress with mighty belfry of Voskresensky Cathedral.
The military significance of Omsk determined the fates of many Russians. We are not sure if the famous horses of talented sculptor Peter Klodt could appear on the Anitchkov Bridge in Petersburg without his Omsk experiences. Because here in Omsk a gifted boy fell for horses - these proud and beautiful animals. The fame found him in the Northern capital but here in Omsk, far away from European artistic world, for the first time baron Klodt felt the desire to learn curving, modelling and studying horses. The fortress is the historical heart of Omsk. At present we can find here the buildings of different epochs: Catherine the Great baroque of the former guardhouse (the Regional Military Registration and Enlistment Office now) stands next to red-brick facades of the beginning of the 20th century buildings, severe forms of Military Assembly (House of Officers) are close to modern volumes of the Dzherzhinsky Palace of Culture.
Many buildings in the fortress are connected with the name of the great Russian writer F.Dostoevsky. First of all it's the house of commandant, where in 1990 was placed the Dostoevsky Literary Museum.The former drill ground is now occupied by the cosy shady public garden.
Being in the fortress you can't but remember the events which became the Omsk history milestones. In 1856 Mikhail Vrubel, the great painter born in Omsk, was baptized in the fortress Soboro-Voskresenskaya Church. Omsk Fine Arts Museum bears his name now. Mikhail Vrubel was around three when his father took him away from Omsk. But it's quite possible that his childish impressions revealed themselves at his mature age. It's no doubt Vrubel saw a lot in his native town. Among that lot a huge to him Cossack Nikolsky Cathedral in the garden of which the artist could have walked. "Its severe slim appearance" is very alike to its architectural brothers in Petersburg. And it's quite explicable because the Cathedral was built by the famous architect V.Stasov's drawings, who built a lot in the city on the banks of Neva.
In 1894 when the railroad came to Omsk it was called the Gates of Siberia. The Great Siberian Track made the economic contacts of businessmen more active and easier, by connecting Omsk with Moscow, Petersburg and Far East. The representatives of famous Russian and foreign firms came to the far Siberian town. Due to this Omsk started intensive construction of imposing buildings: banks, shops, apartments and offices.
In our days the work of organisations responsible for the keeping of Omsk antique memorials became animated, there appeared enthusiasts-students of local lore, whose opinion is considered by the community. The city's department of architecture lead by A.Karirnov has provided the restricted areas where the erection of new buildings is strictly regulated.
One of such areas are the Cossack suburb. Each house here has its unique history. On Pochtovaya street remained some ancient houses, among them No. 27 - the Khiebnikovs house where Omsk artists are working now. Durable house with a verandah facing the garden, with carved laurel branches on the front door and frieze reflected the taste of his owner - the famous public figure, lawyer Arseny Khiebnikov. In the beginning of the 20-s this house was visited by the talented youth, among them was young Vissarion Shebalin, who performed many of his works in this house on Pochtovaya for the first time.
Next is another famous building, No. 30 on Krasnykh Zor street, former Nikolsky avenue. Here lived our famous fellow-townsman prominent contemporary poet Leonid Martynov. We can entitle the book of his memoirs "The Aerial Frigates" the Omsk encyclopaedia of the first half of the 20th century. His love to the town was active, his interest to its history and its present was real. He saw Omsk change its image during the 20-s, 30-s, 40-s and he believed in its future. "This town standing on the border of Kazakhstan and Siberia, town where January frosts resemble Arctic and June heat resembles Middle Asia. This town above quiet 0m has grown during last 20 years" - wrote Martynov in his book "the Fortress on 0m".
Forever will remain in the history of WW II the names of its heroes. The name of Dmitry Karbyshev, our fellow-countryman, Omsk Military School graduate, man of great strength became a legend. 134 Omsk citizens were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
During this time the city 2,5 thousand kilometres away from Moscow was hosting the evacuees from Leningrad and other front-line towns and cities. Sharing bread and shelter with them. Omsk received industrial enterprises from the Ukraine, turned its cultural places into hospitals. 37 hospitals were opened and each third Omsk dweller became a blood-donor during the war.
There almost was no civil construction during the war. On the vacant lots were urgently erected shops of military plants. In those days started their activities the Baranov motor works, the Oktyabtskaya Revolution tank plant, Omsk tyre plant and many others, turning Omsk into large industrial center of Siberia. The builders lived in barracks which disappeared totally only in the 70s.
In the 50-s-60-s in the North West of Omsk due to the construction of the first Siberian oil refinery grew the town of oil industry workers. This town appeared on the spot which since the 18th century occupied "the quiet little village of Zakhiamino, surrounded by the windmills" as wrote I.Belov in his "Travel Notes and Impressions of Western Siberia" in the 1850s. A new city was created designed, by the indivisible architect-artistic project (the Vesniny Brothers architectural-planning workshop).
The idea of the city-garden presented for the first time in 1919 by the engineer D.Werner was incarnated in the end of the 50-s, when the city was all in green and the lawns of parks and public gardens were filled with exotic flora.
Many interesting buildings appeared in Omsk during last decades. Among the buildings which enriched the city's panorama we can enumerate the Trade Center, the builders of which were awarded the State prize in 1968, the Pushkin Scientific Library (architects Y.Zakharov, G.Narizyna, T.Moraz, I.Lubchich) on the Krasny Put street. Omsk architects are trying to form the complete ensembles, they attach great importance to the moulding of building's silhouette, use widely the natural factors in their creative plans. And at the same time they don't forget the antiquity and understand the necessity of its preservation.
The city cherishes its past. The architects and antiquity lovers restored the Serafimo-Alexeevskaya Chapel which even now is surrounded by numerous legends. One of them tells that the Chapel was built in 1908 to memorize the birth of the Cesarevitch Alexei. Another tells that it was built to memorize the soldiers killed in Russian war with Japan. The chapel was torn down in the 1920-s and was rebuilt brick by brick by the project and supervision of artist V.Desyatov.
You can meet the history of Omsk not only on the streets of the city. It lives in the museums, in the inspirational works of Omsk artists, actors and history scientists.
Omsk museum of local lore, history and economy is the oldest in Siberia. It was founded in 1878 by the famous Siberian scientists, explorers and public figures: M.Pevtsov, G.Potanin, N.Yadrintsev, I.SIovtsov.