Сибирский тракт

( Siberian Route )

The Siberian Route (Russian: Сибирский тракт; Sibirsky trakt), also known as the Moscow Highway (Moskovsky trakt, Московский тракт) and Great Highway (Bolshoi trakt, Большой тракт), was a historic route that connected European Russia to Siberia and China.

Monument marking the dividing line between Asia and Europe on the Siberian Route coordinate:56°49′55.7″N 60°21′02.60″E

The construction of the road was decreed by the Tsar and was not finished until the mid-19th century. Previously, Siberian transport had been mostly by river via Siberian River Routes. The first Russian settlers arrived in Siberia by the Cherdyn river route which was superseded by the Babinov overland route in the late 1590s. The town of Verkhoturye in the Urals was the most eastern point of the Babinov Road.

The much longer Siberian route started in Moscow as the Vladimir Highway and passed through Murom, Kozmodemyansk, Kazan, Perm, Kungur, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, Tobolsk, Tara, Kainsk, Tomsk, Yeniseysk and Irkutsk. After crossing Lake Baikal the road split near Verkhneudinsk. One branch continued east to Nerchinsk while the other went south to the border post of Kyakhta where it linked to camel caravans that crossed Mongolia to a Great Wall gate at Kalgan.

In the early 19th century, the route was moved to the south. From Tyumen the road proceeded through Yalutorovsk, Ishim, Omsk, Tomsk, Achinsk and Krasnoyarsk before rejoining the older route at Irkutsk. It remained a vital artery connecting Siberia with Moscow and Europe until the last decades of the 19th century, when it was superseded by the Trans-Siberian Railway and Amur Cart Road. The automobile equivalent is the Trans-Siberian Highway.

Travellers in Yekaterinburg, 1789
Crossing the Angara at Irkutsk, 1886.
Photographies by:
Сергей Александров - CC BY-SA 3.0
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