Babr Monument

Irkutsk, Russia

 

Ирина Мацанова

No, it's not a bobyor ("beaver" in Russian). And it's not a seal. The semi-mythical beast has been the symbol of Irkutsk for two centuries. A long time ago, there was a tiger on the city's coat of arms ("babr" in old Russian) with a sable in its teeth. But a careless official changed "babr" to "bobr" in the documents. The error was never corrected and the striped predator turned black, acquired webbed feet and a flat tail.

A few years ago, the legendary beast was materialized in bronze. The symbol of the city turned out to be stately and even a bit fearsome. It is believed to grant wishes if rubbed on a claw of the right paw.

Behind the beast, there is a wooden historic quarter “Irkutsk settlement." There you can stroll past houses with carved platbands, get a snack, mint a commemorative coin or visit an astronomical observatory, where a 110-year-old long-lived telescope will show you the stars.

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