(Locator); (Russia Tourist Map)...often called the "Paris of Siberia", Irkutsk city is one of the oldest and most charming cities in the country. Founded as a fortress in 1651 by Russian settlers, Irkutsk today is a reflection of mixed cultures - traders from the east and exiles from the west. The Decembrist story is the most famous and romantic of the Siberian exiles. They were not anarchist revolutionaries, but Officer Corps which had saved Russia from Napoleon in 1812, and were in dispair about the disastrous condition of the country under the incompetent Nicholas I. The story of the Decembrists is told through several related sites in Irktusk, in particular two house-museums. In addition there are several other fascinating museums in Irkutsk that give an excellent sense of the history of the area. The Decembrists left a legacy for culture, which remains to this day. Irkutsk is also a major stop on the Trans-Siberian railroad and a short distance from the world's deepest lake, Lake Baikal. When in the city, make sure to take a walk in the old part of Irkutsk- particularly on streets with old wooden houses, known for their magical ability to surround you with coziness and warmth of times gone by.