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Published: March 6th 2011
It's almost in front of my house
A long time ago I thought about writing a short piece about my native town, Birsk. Strictly speaking, it will not be a travel blog, because one does not travel to one’s hometown, but I think somebody, somewhere, sometime might be interested to look at a simple, old, non-sightseeing town in the Russian province close to the Urals. As usual, I am not planning to provide information of factual character. I will perhaps try to show the best things available in Birsk, not so much its buildings, because there are few old of them, but maybe the natural landscapes surrounding it. I suppose that a person, if his intention is travelling, will not go to Birsk to see the sights (though the town has some interesting old buildings and churches), but to see the nature and enjoy some quiet walks in the forests, swimming in the lake, fishing in the river, gathering mushrooms and berries etc.
Birsk is an ancient town, founded in 1663. You will perhaps find no information of historic character about the town in the web, but there is certainly much information in the Russian language.
I was born in Birsk on May 20, 1984, and
have permanently lived there until February 22, 2007, when me and two of my friends decided to go to St. Petersburg in search of, to put it conventionally, a better life. However, I had never thought of leaving the hometown completely, only to find a job, to see the country, to find some life opportunities maybe. It’s interesting that fate has decided that I should go to St. Petersburg, because there were chances of my staying and teaching at the institute, or going to another city, but some facts changed it all.
The stupid thing about me is that, when I was living in St. Petersburg, I was missing Birsk, and vice versa. I find it rather stupid, but that’s the way.
The first aspect of Birsk to tackle is its appearance, the buildings and other constructions made by humans. Though the town doesn’t abound in historic buildings, huge monuments, and sights, there are certainly some places of interest. It should be noted that, being a very small town, Birsk has whole streets of small wooden houses. The most notable buildings are: several merchant’s houses (e.g. Merchant Chirkov House), churches such as Mikhailovskaya Church, Inordocheskaya Church, and the
former Trinity Cathedral which, back in the early 1990-ies, used to be the Aurora cinema theater. I remember seeing some of the King Kong there. The Trinity cathedral is now under renovation and needs funding. There is no cinema theater in Birsk now. I hope this will change sometime. It’s not that difficult to arrange a spot for meeting and watching motion pictures on a big screen, like they do, for example, in the House of Cinema in St. Petersburg (the smaller hall does not look like cinema, it’s just a big room where films are shown, with simple chairs and armchairs).
Architecturally notable, to my mind, in Birsk are the nowadays School No. 3 (former women college), the red building of the former territorial municipal council (Rus. ‘zemskaya uprava’) with a fire tower and an arch close to the Inorodcheskaya Church, the red-brick building of the Pedagogical Academy. My favourite is the Inorodcheskaya Church, I’ve read in some book that this church is a unique construction in the region.
The main parks are: Sokolok. Lenina Park, and Victory Park. The astounding feature of Birsk parks is the total, complete, and utter absence of any benches. If the
benches appear, they are likely to be spoilt or destroyed by some barbarians. As many Russians like to say, it’s the fault of the Government, as are all the other bad things. I would refrain from any discussions on that topic. Well, I most certainly remember my childhood when there used to be a fountain on the little square in front of the Town Culture Palace. That’s what I would first build in Birsk – a fountain. Now there are now fountains.
The vicinity of Birsk does not lack beautiful spots, where the quietness of the nature prevails. Lake Shamsutdin is the citizens’ favourite place for summer swimming, though the people are very careful and try to pollute each and every square meter of it. It’s a lovely place for boating and picnics. I used to spend there several hours every day during the summer.
The town stands on the right bank of Belaya River and, during the ice-free season, a pontoon bridge is arranged across the river for vehicles and pedestrians, opened in 2001. I remember our class (the word class here refers to school) arranging some balloons for the bridge opening ceremony.
There is an
area called Oreshnik outside the town. It’s one of my favourite places on this planet. In winter, this year and in 2010, I used to ski there a lot. It provides some really good routes through the forests and across meadows, uphill and downhill. The possibilities are innumerable, one can go anywhere he/she pleases, provided that he/she has no fright of deep snow. There are birches and fir trees and pines all over the place; and a salt water spring called Solyanka. It is not cared for, so its state is a bit miserable.
The town had some industries in the 1990-ies, but they all crashed down. Nowadays people are developing small private businesses mainly in the public catering, food, and service areas.
So, this note is very simple, just a few words about the small town.
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