Yakutsk is actually the capital city of Russia’s Sakha Republic, and the Arctic Circle is just 280 miles north – what would be a short drive if it wasn’t for the winding roads blanketed in hazardous snow and ice. Things to do in the winter months are limited; with average temperatures of −37.5 °F, you simply cannot stay outside for long. However, thanks to the city’s extreme latitude, temperatures in the summer can reach as high as 60°F – perfect for exploring a few quaint attractions in the city as well as taking advantage of popular local activities such as skiing, ice-skating and building ice sculptures. There are also several interesting museums, monuments and historical buildings dotted around town too.
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Housing a large collection of exhibits from the Ice Age, this museum offers a fascinating insight into local life hundreds and even thousands of years ago. The centerpiece is a giant head of a preserved wooly mammoth, a majestic beast that once used to roam the surrounding Siberian plains thousands of years ago.
Open daily from 10am, this museum is home to a large collection of artwork from both local and international artists. Most of the displays are the work of Yakuts, such as folk art paintings and examples of craft work, and many of the pieces here date back as far as the 16th century.
This small section of the city center has been reconstructed in the architectural style of the 19th century, and presents an excellent look into how the city would have been 200 years ago. The small section of roads is off-limits to cars, and the quaint wooden houses, shops and cafes are built around traditional paved pedestrian paths.
Rising high into the air, this iconic white structure capped with golden turrets is quite a sight from afar – that’s when it’s not snowing and you can actually see it! The cathedral is the most popular Orthodox place of worship in the city and the current building dates back to the 19th century when it replaced the original wooden structure.
Funnily enough, the ideal time to participate in Yakutsk’s ‘winter sports’ is during the ‘spring’ months (March – July), when temperatures are around -8°F and conditions allow people to be outside for prolonged periods of time. Frozen lakes make ideal spots for ice-skating, while the foothills of the surrounding hills and mountains make the perfect location for some fun skiing action.
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