Top Things to do in Chita, Siberia?
Let me admit. To me, visiting Russia meant Moscow and St Petersburg. And probably a few smaller towns around them. Nothing more.
Because everything else was too cold and barren, including Siberia! That’s what we thought, we read, and we heard.
But is it so?
We visited Chita, a lesser known small town in eastern Siberia and were pleasantly surprised.
If you are looking for something beyond Moscow and St Petersburg, Chita is a good option. Located on the confluence of Chita and Ingoda rivers, more than 6000 kilometres away from Moscow, Chita is on the east side of Irkutsk. It is the capital of the Trans-Baikal region. The winter is very long and cold here but the summer brings out sunshine and colors, albeit for a short time.
Here, we have curated a list of our top things to do in Chita, Siberia where a cultural and historical experience awaits you.
Decembrists’ Church Museum
Decembrists’ Church is the oldest building of the city dating back to 1776. It has the status of the wooden architecture monument of the 18th century and has been under state protection since 1974. The history of this church building is amazing and you wouldn’t want to miss it. Our suggestion is to take along a good translator so you can understand the stories & read all the graves and placards. The museum has wonderful collection of historical artefacts including writings and memoirs, as well as the diaries of Decembrists and their wives.
The Church of Kazan
The church of Kazan is an iconic landmark monument in the city of Chita. It is located between Lenin Square and the Chita Railway Station. The bright turquoise cathedral with golden onion domes are the first thing that you see if you alight from train at Chita railway station.
Known as Icon of the Mother of God, it is Chita’s most impressive building. Kazan Cathedral is also the biggest church in Siberia and in the Far East. We saw it during our visit to the railway station and then we visited it at midnight as well.
Titovskaya Hill and Alexander Nevsky Chapel
The Alexander Nevsky Chapel is located on the Titovskaya hill. Small but beautiful chapel almost always looks freshly painted. This is a viewpoint, and you can see Chita railway station with Trans-Siberian trains halted there and you can also see a part of the town. Near the chapel on the Titovskaya hill there is an observation deck also.
This spot is popular for wedding shoots. The day we went there, a shoot was going on and a white limo was waiting for the couple.
Aginsky Datsan or Агинский Дацан
Aginsky Datsan is the main attraction of Chita and attracts locals as well as tourists. Datsan is the term used for Buddhist university monasteries in the Tibetan tradition.
A place of pilgrimage, Aginsky Datsan is painted in traditional Buddhist style. People come here to worship and they can also get astrological predictions or healing consultations if they wish so, as per Buddhist rites.
There is a souvenir shop as well.
Chita Oblast Drama Theater
If you are in Chita, visit to this drama theater is a must. A beautiful theater with a long history. The theatre participates in international and inter-regional festivals in Blagoveshchensk, Irkutsk, and Tomsk. The theatre repeatedly became the laureate and winner of national and international competitions and festivals.
We watched a comedy show and it was a blast. The hall was full to its capacity. Today the Chita regional drama theatre is primarily a theatre based on the best samples of world drama: both classical and modern, and even experimental.
House of Officers
Just a few steps away from the Drama Theater is House of Officers. Striking gilded statues of soldiers adorn this landmark building that showcases Chita as a military stronghold on the border with China. Walk through an archway to find yourself in ODORI Park, dotted with vintage military hardware.
Every city seems to have a Lenin Square, then how could Chita be left behind? It’s a great place for people to take a stroll and meet casually. The architecture of the surrounding government buildings is stunning.
A mansion built for the accommodation of the Shumov’s family is one of the most beautiful buildings in Chita and is known as “Shumovsky Palace”. It was built in 1914 by the traders and gold miners Shumovy brothers Konstantin and Alexey Shumov. This richly decorated structure is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. It has elements of Baroque and late Classicism. The symmetrical facade is decorated with four domes like structures.
The project of the mansion was awarded the Grand Prix of the World Exhibition in Paris. In 1937 the palace was handed over to the National Security Service, which is placed there to this day.
Chita railway station
Chita is a large industrial and cultural center of the country. I knew the name only because of it being the major railway station on Trans-Siberian railway route. Also, the cargo freight in the Republic of Buryatia, Zabaikalsky Krai and Amurskaya Oblast are controlled over from here.
Lose yourself in the outdoors
What is the use of visiting Siberia if you don’t experience the outdoors? Even if you are not an adventure lover, have a jeep safari and enjoy the rough terrain to the woods. Your day may look like encountering some animals, cooking a barbeque, crossing some streams, admiring the silver coated trees etc.
Or do a bicycle tour or just hike.
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