Count Speransky Square (1669-1790s – Kremlin, early XIX — 1935 – Tikhvinskaya, Gostinodvorskaya, Count Speransky and others; from 1935 to 2016 – Kirov Square) – the main square of Irkutsk; it is located in the Right-Bank District, in the historical center of the city between Lenin and Sukhe-Bator streets. At present, it is a small section of the historical square with the same name, which remained after the separation of the square and a small park.
XVII – XVIII centruies
The square has a rich history, it is over 300 years old. It arose immediately behind the southern wall of the Irkutsk Kremlin around 1670 and, accordingly, received the name Kremlin square. The area was swampy and was gradually drained. After that, the square almost immediately became the center of trade and entertainment for the townspeople and guests of Irkutsk. Furs, timber and tea were sold here, overseas goods were bought, travellers stopped to get some rest and got ready for the following expedition.
At the end of the 18th century, the Kremlin was dismantled and the square was named Gostinodvorskaya, and later – Tikhvin – after the Tikhvin Church, which stood on its southern side.
Count Mikhail Mikhailovich Speransky – Russian public and statesman, reformer, lawmaker. Coming from the bottom class, thanks to his abilities and hard work, he attracted the attention of Emperor Alexander I and, having earned his trust, led his reform activities. In 1816-1819 he was Penza governor, in 1819-1821 – Siberian Governor-General. Under Nicholas I, he led the work on the codification of legislation, laying the foundations of theoretical jurisprudence (legal science) in Russia. Participated in the upbringing of Tsarevich Alexander Nikolaevich.
XIX – XX centuries
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Gostiny Dvor, which had previously been located on the banks of the Angara, was moved to the square. In winter, an ice rink was put on. Gradually, the square grew and became the size it is today by the end of the 19th century. The fire of 1879 also played a role in this. It destroyed all of the square’s buildings, including the Gostiny Dvor. The churches and some other buildings were saved by the forces of the townspeople, but the destroyed ones were not rebuilt.
At that time, the square had a unique architectural ensemble consisting of religious and educational institutions, but it almost completely vanished with the establishment of Soviet power. More than half of all buildings were destroyed, including the Tikhvin Church and the Kazan Cathedral, with a capacity of up to 5,000 people.
By the second half of the 20th century, the situation returned to normal. In 1961, a public garden with a fountain and benches was laid out in the center of the square, and the surrounding area and buildings were improved. In the 1970s, construction of the city administration building has begun.
Sergei Mironovich Kirov – Russian revolutionary, Soviet statesman and political figure. He was killed on December 1, 1934. Kirov’s assassination triggered the beginning of the massive repression in the USSR, known as the “Great Terror”.
At present, the main city events and mass festivities are held in the park and on the square, including a military parade on Victory Day and Maslenitsa. There is a fountain in summer, and in winter they set up the main Christmas (New Year) tree and build an ice town from Baikal and Angara ice. Among the townspeople, the square is a place of rest, walks and meetings. In addition, Wi-Fi Internet access is available on the territory of the park.
In 2001, a chapel was erected on the site of the former Kazan Cathedral in memory of the past and in honor of the third millennium of Christianity in Russia.
In 2007, a global reconstruction was carried out in the Kirov park: new fences and paving slabs appeared, green spaces were almost completely replaced.
On May 26, 2016, the section of the northern part of the square outside the park received the status of a square with the name of the square of Count Speransky.
Translate Anastasija Olesova, The University of Manchester , 3rd year, BA (Hons) Politics and Russian