Tomsk was founded in 1604 and served as a fortress, a merchants’ city, a centre of the gold rush, and the centre of a huge province covering several regions of today’s Russia and Kazakhstan. The establishment in 1888 of the first university beyond the Urals changed Tomsk dramatically. The city is both old and always young; its humming life is filled with hopes, talents, and youthful energy.
Four universities are found within one and a half kilometers! No other city in the world can boast such close proximity of its higher educational institutions. The two more universities are also quite close by; in Tomsk, everything you want is right outside. More than 72,000 students attend classes in Tomsk institutions of higher education, so every eighth resident of Tomsk is a student.
Tomsk has many local cultural institutions, including several drama theaters, a children’s theater, and a puppet theater. Major concert venues in the city include the Conservatory Concert Hall and the Tomsk Palace of Sport. The city also has cultural centers dedicated to the German, Polish, and Tatar languages and culture.
One of the most remarkable features of Tomsk is its picturesque architecture, created by the hands of masters from Europe: Marfeld, Gut, and Orzeszko (Poland), Langer (Austria), Geste (Scotland), Gibert (France), Turskiy (Germany), and Tatarchuh and Homich (also from Poland). Their masterpieces of different genres, borrowed from Europe, decorated Tomsk. Tomsk architecture has always been its “must see!” There is probably no one who is indifferent to the variety of Tomsk architectural styles. Here one can find wooden architecture, art nouveau, baroque, classicism, renaissance, and eclecticism. Architects from all over the world dreamed of “conquering” Tomsk, which was situated in the most eastern part of Western Siberia and possessed a tremendous cultural potential. They managed to create a “European corner” in a Russian provincial city that attracted scientists and gifted people from around the world. Each of them made a great impact on the history and culture of the city, making it up-to-date and expressive.
In anticipation of the upcoming II University Cities Forum in Tomsk, let’s explore what the region has to offer. Check out these fun facts about Tomsk, the so-called “Siberian Athens”.
- Tomsk is one of the oldest cities in Siberia. More than 400 years old, Tomsk is one of the oldest cities in Siberia. It was established in 1604 as a fortress on the bank of the Tom River for protection against nomadic bandits. Tomsk continued to develop, particularly after the discovery of gold in 1830, and later became the new home for many factories that were relocated at the beginning of World War II. This growth led to the establishment of the new Tomsk Oblast, for which Tomsk still serves as the administrative center.
- Tomsk is a major educational center in the region. The establishment of Tomsk State University and Tomsk Polytechnic University helped position the city as an educational haven, giving rise to the nickname of “Siberian Athens.” By World War II, every twelfth resident of the city was a student, and today, one in every six of the 500,000 people who live in Tomsk is a student. Itwas also one of the first cities in Russia to gain Internet access in the early 1990s thanks to grants received by universities. It is now home to six state universities and 11 research institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
- In 2013, according to a joint study by MIT and the Skolkovo Institute for Science and Technology, one of Tomsk universities – TUSUR – entered the list of nine world universities that created an innovation ecosystem under unfavorable for them conditions. The rest of the list includes: Technion University (Israel), Sophia Antipolis University (France), Oakland University (New Zealand), Aalto University (Finland), Imperial College London (Great Britain), Korea Institute of Science and Technology (Korea), Jinhua (China), University of Michigan (USA).
- According to the results of joint study conducted by Skolkovo Foundation and Expert RA Rating Agency, Tomsk was included in Top 35 of the most effective innovation centers along with the Silicon Valley, Cambridge, Bangalore, and other world famous science and technology parks. Experts from more than 50 innovation centers around the world answered the questions on about a thousand of places of the kind. Tomsk was the only location representing Russia.
- Tomsk is the city of scientists. Tomsk ranks second in Russia in terms of number of Candidates of Science and Doctors of Science. There are 47 Candidates of Science and 10 Doctors of Science per one thousand of human population with higher and postgraduate education. 8 thousand of people have a science degree, where 48 percent of women are doctors of science, 36% are candidates of science.
- Tomsk offers a number of cultural attractions. Though remote to the average traveler, Tomsk offers a variety of cultural and historic landmarks for visitors. Some sights to see are:
- The Chekhov Statue on the riverbank of the Tom River was sculpted in bronze in celebration of the city’s 400th anniversary.
- Ulitsa Tatarskaya is a street lined with examples of Tomsk’s noted “wooden-lace” architecture on old log and timber homes.
- Resurrection Hill was formerly housed in Tomsk’s original fortress, and the replica of its “Golden Gate” was built in 2004 to honor the city’s 400th anniversary.
- The Tomsk wooden Art Nouveau is included in the list of “Six tourist attractions of Russia which will disappear soon” by Forbes magazine.
- Lidia Delektorskaya, Tomsk dweller, is depicted on dozens of graphic and pictorial art works of Henri Matisse. She was a translator and secretary of the famous French artist.
Recently, International QS Ranking Agency has released the Best Student Cities Ranking. It includes four Russian cities: Moscow (39th in the list), Petersburg (78th), Tomsk (91st) and Novosibirsk (93rd place). The company’s specialists evaluated the city according to six criteria: popularity, financial accessibility, the rating of local universities, the internationality of the student body, the activity of employers and the opinion of the students themselves. The poll involved 18 thousand people.
QS analysts note that Russian cities are quite budgetary for student life. In terms of financial accessibility, St. Petersburg and Tomsk took the seventh place, Novosibirsk is on the the eighth position, and Moscow got on the 48th place. The leaders in the ranking are Montreal, Paris and London.
Here, you can see the Interactive Map for Tomsk Students to explore some of the Tomsk’s landmarks – http://domen-student.tsu.ru/en/.