Church of Our Lady of the Assumption

Irkutsk, Russia | C.1879

Photo Credit: Grisha Vinokurov

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, also called the Polish Church, is a Catholic church built in the Gothic style located in Irkutsk, in Siberia, Russia.

Irkutsk is one of the largest cities in Siberia today and a point of interest for travelers with its numerous museums and old architecture, however that was far from the case almost 200 years ago when Catholic settlers first constructed a small wooden church in 1825.

Utilized in its initial form for almost three decades, the church was expanded in 1855, but it was short lived. In 1879 practically the entire historical center of Irkutsk was destroyed in a fire so great that people subsequently talked about history “before the fire” or “after the fire”. What survived of the wooden structures in Irkutsk’s center were subsequently demolished at the end of the century, including the church, and a large-scale rebuilding took place across the city.

Where the old church stood, a new brick structure was built by the Polish community between 1881 – 1883, and dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The church was built according to the plans of the Polish architect Jan Tamulewicz in a neo-Gothic style that differs from the other Orthodox churches in the area.

In 1974-1978, architect Vyazunova carried out work on the restoration of the church with the task of returning the building to its original appearance, and room was made for a philharmonic hall to be opened in the reconstructed building.

Currently the church is listed as an “Object of Cultural Heritage” and belongs to the Irkutsk Philharmonic. The Catholic community of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary performs services in the space daily after organ concerts.

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