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Omsk is a city in southwest Siberia in Russia, the administrative center of Omsk Oblast. It is the second-largest city in Russia beyond the Urals. The distance from Omsk to Moscow is 2,700 kilometres.
The climate is dry and continental, characterized by dramatic swings of weather.
The population in Omsk rose from 31,000 in 1881 to 53,050 in 1900 and to 1,148,418 in 1989 Census. The 2002 Census recorded that the population declined to 1,134,016.
The wooden fort of Omsk was erected in 1716 to protect the expanding Russian frontier, along the Ishim and the Irtysh rivers against the Kyrgyz nomads of the Steppes. In the late 1700s, stronger works of brick were erected on the right bank of the Om; of these, the original Tobolsk and the restored Tara gates still stand, along with the original German Lutheran Church, an armory, a military jail, and commandant's house.
In the 1800s and the early 1900s, Omsk became the administrative center of Western Siberia and the Steppes (Kazakhstan), acquiring a few churches and cathedrals of various denominations, mosques, a synagogue, the governor-general's mansion, a military academy. As the frontier receded and military importance diminished, the town fell into lethargy.
The new boom began with the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway in 1890s, when the merchants flocked to the city on the rail/river junction. Many a trade company opened stores and offices here, building an elaborately decorated district of the city. Foreign powers, including the British, Dutch and Germans, opened consulates to represent their commercial interests. Many of the period's buildings survive (though none from the expo), and the architecture gives the city center a distinguished historical Siberian town flavor.
Shortly after the 1917 revolution, the pro-monarchy "white" forces seized control of the city. The "Provisional Government of Russia" was established in 1918, headed by the polar explorer and decorated war hero Admiral Kolchak. Omsk was proclaimed the Capital of Russia, and its central bank kept the Imperial gold reserves, guarded by the Czechoslovakian garrison trapped in the chaos of World War I. The city proved to be a key to power in Western Siberia; eventually, Kolchak, the government, and the gold retreated along the Trans-Siberian eastward to Irkutsk, and the bolshevik "red" forces took control in 1919.
The Soviet government preferred the young Novonikolayevsk, now Novosibirsk, to be the designated center of Western Siberia, prompting the mass transfer of administrative, cultural and educational functions from Omsk, dampening the city's growth and sparking a rivalry between the two cities continuing to this day. It was during and after World War II that Omsk received a new boost: many industries were evacuated away from Russia's western front in 1941. In the event of a German victory during the Battle of Moscow, Omsk was to become the provisional Soviet capital.
The centrepiece of the city is an ensemble of buildings along Lyubinsky prospekt/Lenin Street. This is the former Gostiny Dvor, flanked by two chapels. Close at hand are a bourse and a drama theater, all dating from late 1800s – early 1900s.
Side streets are lined with stately mansions of former insurance companies, trusts and banks from the same period. Hidden closer to the river confluence are the few surviving somber buildings of the 18th-century fortress. The largest and most opulent church in the city is the Dormition Cathedral, a pompous five-domed edifice in the Russian Revival style, consecrated in 1896, blown up by the Soviets, and meticulously restored in the early 2000s.
Another area of interest is Nikolsky prospekt/Krasnykh Zor Street, where a line of merchants' wooden houses still stands. The street leads to the Neoclassical cathedral of St Nicholas, which was commissioned by the Cossacks, designed by Vasily Stasov and consecrated in 1840. It contains various relics of the Siberian Cossacks. Various other landmarks are scattered throughout the city.
The major museums in Omsk are the Omsk Vrubel Art Gallery and the State Historical Museum, located in the former bourse building and the governor-general's mansion, respectively.
Fine arts museum is entitled in honour of Mikhail Vrubel.
91, DEKABRISTOV, OMSK 624010 RUSSIA
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