© istock/ SergeyVButorin
© istock/ SergeyVButorin

Tobolsk Kremlin – the beauty and spiritual power of Siberia

4 minutes to read

Tobolsk is the ancient capital of Siberia. The exploration of uncharted expanses east of the Ural Mountains began from here. The modern city carefully preserves the monuments of the past, and there are many of them.  The pearl of the city is the Tobolsk Kremlin. You will be impressed by the beauty and spiritual power of Siberia that can be felt here. 

The only stone Kremlin in Siberia

 ©  LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov
© LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov

The first wooden fortress appeared on the Alafei Mountain in 1594. Six times, fires destroyed the fortress, but it was erected again. The majestic stone Kremlin was built in the early 18th century.  At first, the Sophia-Assumption Cathedral was erected, later the Gostiny Dvor, as a number of administrative buildings and renters were added to it. In order to preserve the wayward Irtysh from erosion of the Kremlin Hill, the riverbed had to be moved.

 ©   LiveJournal/ Ayrat Ismagilov
© LiveJournal/ Ayrat Ismagilov

Currently, the ensemble of the Tobolsk Kremlin is the main orthodox temple of Siberia - the Sophia-Uspensky Cathedral. It includes a sacristy, a bell tower, the Bishop’s house, the Gostiny Dvor, towers and walls, Rentery,  the building of the former governor’s palace, the Prison Castle, and the Sophia Stairs.

© istock/ ads861
© istock/ ads861

What is interesting there 

Tobolsk Kremlin is nowadays a museum, where you can learn a lot about the past of this area.  The life of the Siberian merchants can be experienced in the Gostiny Dvor. You can also visit an exposition about the life of exiles and prisoners in the Prison Castle. Another local history exposition, as well as the exhibition of paintings and carved bones, can be found in the Palace of the Governor, Museum of Siberian Orthodoxy in the bishop's house, and a stock repository in Rentery. Keep in mind that you can get into Rentery only with a guided tour by appointment.

 ©  LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov
© LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov

Pedestrian paths behind the Kremlin wall allow you to admire stunning views of the lower part of the city and the mighty Siberian river Irtysh. If the panorama inspires you so much that you want to stay for a while, then instead of ordinary hotels, you can spend the night in the Gostiny Dvor and feel like a Siberian merchant at least for one night. For people with iron nerves, one can be advised to live for some time in the thematic hostel "Prisoner" in the Prison Castle.

An executed bell

 ©  LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov
© LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov

The most unusual prisoner exiled to Tobolsk is the alarm bell from Uglich. By order of Boris Godunov, the bell was punished for notifying the people of the death of Tsarevich Dimitri and provoking reprisals against the alleged killers of the child. The bell was dropped from the bell tower, his tongue was torn out, his ear was chopped off, he was publicly punished in the square with 12 lashes, and then he was sent to Siberian exile.

Legends of the Tobolsk Kremlin

 ©  Live Journal / Ayrat Ismagilov
© Live Journal / Ayrat Ismagilov

With such a rich history, this place could not help but gain legends. The hill on which the Kremlin stands absorbed the energy, strength, magic of various peoples who passed through there. The South Siberian Tatars called this whole area the Alafei Mountain, which means "Royal Mountain". Khan Kuchum guessed that the hill was endowed with a special, mystical power. It was here that he settled his harem and heirs. Before the Tatars, there lived a tribe of Sybyr. When one ruler died, his successor was tested for strength. He was supposed to climb to the top of Alafey Mountain and not stumble. Legend said that only an honest and courageous person who is not bent to the ground by evil thoughts and actions can do this. 

Today, it is much easier to climb to the Kremlin - instead of slippery clay under your feet, comfortable steps of the Sophia Stairs. They say that when a person climbs a ladder, his whole life sweeps before his eyes. And suddenly, at some step, he stumbles and falls, and sees or remembers something important for himself.

How to get to Tobolsk

 ©  LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov
© LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov

Tobolsk is located 245 kilometers from Tyumen. You can get there by car or bus from the bus station. The road is excellent; there are places to stop and have a bite. Trains and electric trains to Tobolsk run from Tyumen Railway Station.  

By the way, 30 kilometers from Tobolsk, there is the Holy Znamensky Abalaksky Monastery with the miraculous icon of the Mother of God called “The Sign” and the tourist complex “Abalak”.

 ©  LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov
© LiveJournal / Ayrat Ismagilov

The majestic old architecture of the Tobolsk Kremlin fits perfectly into the natural landscape. The atmosphere here is especially warm despite the harsh climate. Standing over a cliff and looking into the endless distances, you can feel the beauty and spiritual strength of Siberia.

Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve, Tobolsk
Historical and Architectural Museum-Reserve, Tobolsk

The author

Natalya Lisovskaya

Natalya Lisovskaya

Hi, I'm Natalya, a journalist from the ancient Siberian city of Tyumen, in the Ural Federal District. I love my Siberian land, its rich history and the harsh and majestic beauty of its nature. I hope you will fall in love with it too, after reading my stories.

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