Tobolsk, city (1989 pop. 94,000), W Siberian Russia, a port on the Irtysh River near its confluence with the Tobol. Industries revolve around oil and gas from the W Siberian oil field. Founded in 1587 by Cossacks on the site of a Tatar village, Tobolsk was one of Russian Siberia's first towns. It was moved to its present site in 1610. The city was the administrative seat of W Siberia from 1708 until 1824, when Omsk replaced it. The main Siberian highway went through Tobolsk in the 18th cent., but the city declined when the Trans-Siberian RR was built (1890s) far to the south. Emperor Nicholas II and his family were exiled there (1917-18) before being taken to Yekaterinburg and executed.

Tobolsk (Тобо́льск; Tatar: Tubıl) is a historic capital of Siberia, now an ordinary town in Tyumen Oblast, Russia. It is located at the confluence of rivers Tobol and Irtysh. The population of the city was 92,880 in the 2002 Russian Census.


Tobolsk was founded by Yermak Timofeyevich's Cossacks in 1585-1586 during the first Russian advance into Siberia near the ruins of the Siberia Khanate's capital, Qashliq. It became the seat of the Viceroy of Siberia and prospered on trade with China and Bukhara. It was there that the first school, theatre, and newspaper in Siberia were established. In The Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe made his Robinson Crusoe character stay in Tobolsk from September 1703 to June 1704. After the Swedish defeat at Poltava in 1709, prisoners of war in considerable numbers were sent to Tobolsk. They numbered perhaps 25 % (sic) of the population. This probably has to do with the Swedish Chamber, see below. Many PoWs were not repatriated until the 1720s, and some probably settled permanently in Tobolsk.

After administrative division of the territory, Tobolsk remained the seat of the Governor-General of Western Siberia until the seat was moved to Omsk in the 1820s or 1830s. Bowing to the city's authority, many Siberian towns, including Omsk, Tyumen, and Tomsk, had their original arms display the Tobolsk insignia. Omsk honors the legacy to this day.

Until the Russian Revolution of 1917, the city served as the capital of the Tobolsk guberniya. Dmitri Mendeleev and Vasily Perov are the most famous natives of the city. Some of the Decembrists were exiled and lived there as well. The city's importance declined when the Trans-Siberian Railway bypassed it in the 1890s.

In August 1917, after the February Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II and his family were brought here to live in relative luxury in the former house of the Governor-General. After the White Army approached the city in spring of 1918, the royal family was moved to Yekaterinburg and shot there, ending the imperial Romanov dynasty.

The chemist, Dmitriy Mendeleev was born in Tobolsk.

The economy of modern Tobolsk centers on a major oil refinery. Some traditional crafts, such as bone-carving, are also preserved.

Main sights

Tobolsk is the only town in Siberia and one of the few in Russia which has a standing stone kremlin, or elaborate city-fortress, from the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. Its white walls and towers with an ensemble of churches and palatial buildings spectacularly sited on a high river bank were proclaimed a national historical and architectural treasure in 1870.

The principal monuments in the kremlin are the Cathedral of St. Sophia (1683-1686), a merchant courtyard (1703-1705), an episcopal palace (1773-1775) (now it is a museum of local lore), and the so-called Swedish Chamber, with six baroque halls (1713-1716). The city contains some remarkable baroque and Neoclassical churches from the 18th and 19th centuries. Also noteworthy is a granite monument to Yermak, constructed to a design by Alexander Brullov in 1839.

The city's neighbourhood is rich in ancient kurgans and pagan shrines. Some of these date back to the 10th century BC.

External links


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