Tobolsk (Russian: Тобо́льск) is a town in Tyumen Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tobol and Irtysh Rivers. Founded in 1590, Tobolsk is the second oldest Russian settlement east of the Ural Mountains in Asian Russia, and is a historic capital of the Siberia region. Population: 99,694(2010 Census);[7] 92,880(2002 Census);[13] 94,143(1989 Census).[14]


Tobolsk Kremlin


Coat of arms
Anthem: none[2]
Location of Tobolsk
Location of Tobolsk
Tobolsk (Tyumen Oblast)
Coordinates: 58°12′N 68°16′E
Federal subjectTyumen Oblast[1]
FoundedJune 14, 1587[3][4]
Town status since1590[4]
  BodyTown Duma[5]
  Head[5]Maksim Afanasiev[6]
  Total221.98 km2 (85.71 sq mi)
90 m (300 ft)
98,998 (-0.7%)
  Rank165th in 2010
  Density450/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
  Subordinated toTown of Tobolsk[1]
  Capital ofTobolsky District[1], Town of Tobolsk[1]
  Urban okrugTobolsk Urban Okrug[9]
  Capital ofTobolsk Urban Okrug[9], Tobolsky Municipal District[9]
Time zoneUTC+5 (MSK+2 [10])
Postal code(s)[11]
626111, 626147, 626148, 626150–626153, 626155–626159
Dialing code(s)+7 3456
OKTMO ID71710000001
Town DayLast Sunday of June[12]
Twin townsPejë


Conquest of Khanate of Sibir

In 1580, a group of Yermak Timofeyevich's Cossacks initiated the Russian conquest of Siberia, pushing eastwards on behalf of the Tsardom of Russia. They attacked the Vogul (Mansi) and Ostyak (Khanty) peoples in Yugra, and had also captured a tax collector of Kuchum Khan, the king of the large Tatar Khanate of Sibir, the most powerful force in the western Siberia region on the eastern side of the Ural Mountains. At the time the Voguls and Ostyaks were subjects of Kuchum, and in response retaliation attacks were carried out against the Cossacks by the Tatars. After a year of Tatar attacks, Yermak prepared for the conquest of the Khanate of Sibir and a campaign to take the Khanate's capital city, Qashliq. The Cossacks conquered the city on 26 October 1582, sending Kuchum into retreat. Despite the conquest, Kuchum had regrouped his remaining forces and formed a new army, launching a surprise attack on 6 August 1584, killing Yermak. This resulted in a series of battles over Qashliq, passing between Tatar and Cossack control, with the city being abandoned in 1588. Kuchum was eventually defeated by the Cossacks in 1598 at the Battle of Urmin near the River Ob, ending the Khanate of Sibir, and establishing Russian control over the western Siberia region.

Founding of Tobolsk and Imperial Russian era

Tobolsk was founded in 1590 by a group of Yermak's Cossacks under the command of Daniil Grigor'yevich Chulkov near the ruins of Qashliq, which had been almost totally destroyed by years of fighting.[15] Tobolsk would become the nerve center of the conquest.[16] To the north Beryozovo (1593) and Mangazeya (1600-01) were built to bring the Nenets under tribute, while to the east Surgut (1594) and Tara (1594) were established to protect Tobolsk and subdue the ruler of the Narym Ostiaks. Of these, Mangazeya was the most prominent, becoming a base for further exploration eastward.[17] The new city was the second Russian town founded in Siberia after Tyumen, and was named after the Tobol River, situated at its confluence with the Irtysh River, where the Irtysh turns from flowing westward to flowing northward.[18] Tobolsk quickly grew based on the importance of the Siberian river routes, and prospered on trade with China to the east and with Bukhara to the south. In 1708, Tobolsk became the capital of the newly established Siberia Governorate, and saw the establishment of the first school, theater, and newspaper in Siberia. During the Great Northern War, soldiers of the defeated Swedish army at Battle of Poltava in 1709 were sent in large numbers as prisoners of war to Tobolsk. The Swedes numbered about 25% of the total population and were popular among locals for their contributions to the city, to the point a building of the Tobolsk Kremlin was named The Swedish Chamber in their honor. Many of them were not repatriated until the 1720s, while some of them settled permanently in Tobolsk.

In 1719, Russian authorities began administrative reforms that saw Tobolsk's political importance decline as the Siberia Governorate's massive territory was gradually decentralized into new provinces or transferred to other governorates. By 1782, Siberia Governorate was abolished and its remaining area split into two viceroyalties, with Tobolsk becoming the capital of the Tobolsk Viceroyalty. In 1796, Tobolsk became the capital of Tobolsk Governorate, and remained the seat of the Governor-General of Western Siberia until the seat was moved to Omsk in the 1820s or 1830s. Acknowledging the authority of Tobolsk, many Western Siberian towns including Omsk, Tyumen, and Tomsk, had their original coat of arms display the Tobolsk insignia, which Omsk continues to honor as of 2015. After the Decembrist Revolt in 1825, some of the Decembrists deported to Siberia settled in Tobolsk. The 1890s saw the importance of Tobolsk decline even further when the Trans-Siberian Railway line between Tyumen and Omsk bypassed the city to the south. In the early 1900s the town was famous as the administrative center of Grigori Rasputin's home province, and is located close to his birthplace Pokrovskoye.

Soviet era

In March 1917, the February Revolution saw the end of the Russian Empire with the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, and in August the new Provisional Government evacuated the imperial family and their retinue to Tobolsk to live in relative luxury in the former house of the Governor-General. The October Revolution three months later saw the beginning of the Russian Civil War, and the Bolsheviks quickly came to power in Tobolsk. After troops of the opposing White Army approached the city in the spring of 1918, the Bolsheviks moved the imperial family west to Yekaterinburg where they were eventually executed in July 1918. Following the end of the war in Bolshevik victory and the formation of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, administrative reforms in 1920 saw the abolition of Tobolsk Governorate and ending 218 years of Tobolsk serving as a provincial capital. Instead, the city became the administrative center of its own uyezd (county), Tobolsky District, in the new Tyumen Province seated in Tyumen. From 1921 to 1922, Tobolsk was a site of massive anti-Bolshevik peasant uprisings across Western Siberia by peasants associated with the Green Army. On November 3, 1923, the city became part of Ural Oblast until January 7, 1932, when it was transferred again to Omsk Oblast. From January 17, 1934, the city was part of Obsko-Irtysh Oblast until it was abolished on December 7 that year and transferred to Omsk Oblast. On August 14, 1944, Tobolsk was transferred to Tyumen Oblast.

A 2004 American book said a 1982 explosion in Toblosk was caused by CIA sabotage. A former KGB officer replied that the explosion was caused by improper installation.[19] On July 10, 1987, by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the city of Tobolsk was awarded the Order of the Badge of Honour.

Recent history

On November 4, 1996, Tobolsk became an independent city with town status when it was separated from Tobolsky District by the Tyumen Oblast Duma.

In 2013, Tobolsk-Polymer opened the largest polypropylene production facility in Russia as part of an initiative to create a large petrochemical complex in the city. Tobolsk has also become a popular location for tourism in Siberia due to its historical importance, architecture and natural landscapes. It is also an important educational center of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the seat of Tobolsk Diocese, the first Orthodox diocese in Siberia.

Administrative and municipal status

Within the framework of administrative divisions, Tobolsk serves as the administrative center of Tobolsky District, even though it is not a part of it.[1] As an administrative division, it is, together with one urban-type settlement, incorporated separately as the Town of Tobolsk—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts.[1] As a municipal division, the Town of Tobolsk is incorporated as Tobolsk Urban Okrug.[9]


The economy of modern Tobolsk centers on a major oil refinery and the petrochemical industry. Some traditional crafts, such as bone-carving, are also preserved.


Tobolsk has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) bordering on a subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification Dfc). Winters are very cold with average temperatures from −21.6 °C (−6.9 °F) to −12.7 °C (9.1 °F) in January, while summers are mild with average temperatures from +13.8 to +23.9 °C (56.8 to 75.0 °F). Precipitation is moderate and is somewhat higher in summer than at other times of the year.

Climate data for Tobolsk
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 5.5
Average high °C (°F) −12.7
Daily mean °C (°F) −17.1
Average low °C (°F) −21.6
Record low °C (°F) −48.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 23
Average rainy days 1 0.2 3 10 13 16 16 20 20 14 4 1 118.2
Average snowy days 22 17 13 6 2 0 0 0 0.4 6 17 22 105.4
Average relative humidity (%) 81 77 72 65 62 66 73 78 79 79 82 81 75
Mean monthly sunshine hours 61 114 177 217 265 288 298 225 156 92 60 42 1,995
Source #1:[20]
Source #2: NOAA (sun only, 1961-1990)[21]

Main sights

Tobolsk is the only town in Siberia and one of the few in Russia which has a standing stone kremlin (Tobolsk Kremlin): an elaborate city-fortress from the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. Its white walls and towers with an ensemble of churches and palatial buildings spectacularly sited on a high river bank were proclaimed a national historical and architectural treasure in 1870.

The principal monuments in the kremlin are the Cathedral of St. Sophia (1683–1686), a merchant courtyard (1703–1705), an episcopal palace (1773–1775; now a museum of local lore), and the so-called Swedish Chamber, with six baroque halls (1713–1716). The town contains some remarkable baroque and Neoclassical churches from the 18th and 19th centuries. Also noteworthy is a granite monument to Yermak, constructed to a design by Alexander Brullov in 1839. The town's vicinity is rich in ancient kurgans and pagan shrines, some of which date back to the 10th century BCE.

Notable people

Twin towns and sister cities

Tobolsk is twinned with:



  1. Law #53
  2. Article 2 of the Charter of Tobolsk states that the town may have an anthem, providing one is approved by the Town Duma. As of 2015, no anthem has been adopted.
  3. Official website of Tobolsk. General Information (in Russian)
  4. Charter of Tobolsk, Preamble
  5. Charter of Tobolsk, Article 20
  6. Official website of Tobolsk Town Administration. Structure of the Administration of the Town of Tobolsk (in Russian)
  7. Russian Federal State Statistics Service (2011). "Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1" [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года [2010 All-Russia Population Census] (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service.
  8. "26. Численность постоянного населения Российской Федерации по муниципальным образованиям на 1 января 2018 года". Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  9. Law #263
  10. "Об исчислении времени". Официальный интернет-портал правовой информации (in Russian). June 3, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  11. Почта России. Информационно-вычислительный центр ОАСУ РПО. (Russian Post). Поиск объектов почтовой связи (Postal Objects Search) (in Russian)
  12. Charter of Tobolsk, Article 2
  13. Russian Federal State Statistics Service (May 21, 2004). "Численность населения России, субъектов Российской Федерации в составе федеральных округов, районов, городских поселений, сельских населённых пунктов – районных центров и сельских населённых пунктов с населением 3 тысячи и более человек" [Population of Russia, Its Federal Districts, Federal Subjects, Districts, Urban Localities, Rural Localities—Administrative Centers, and Rural Localities with Population of Over 3,000] (XLS). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года [All-Russia Population Census of 2002] (in Russian).
  14. "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность наличного населения союзных и автономных республик, автономных областей и округов, краёв, областей, районов, городских поселений и сёл-райцентров" [All Union Population Census of 1989: Present Population of Union and Autonomous Republics, Autonomous Oblasts and Okrugs, Krais, Oblasts, Districts, Urban Settlements, and Villages Serving as District Administrative Centers]. Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года [All-Union Population Census of 1989] (in Russian). Институт демографии Национального исследовательского университета: Высшая школа экономики [Institute of Demography at the National Research University: Higher School of Economics]. 1989 via Demoscope Weekly.
  15. Lantzeff, George V., and Richard A. Pierce (1973). Eastward to Empire: Exploration and Conquest on the Russian Open Frontier, to 1750. Montreal: McGill-Queen's U.P.
  16. Lincoln, W. Bruce (2007). The Conquest of a Continent: Siberia and the Russians. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
  17. Fisher, Raymond Henry (1943). The Russian Fur Trade, 1550-1700. University of California Press.
  18. "Tobolsk city, Russia travel guide". Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  19. "KGB Veteran Denies CIA Caused '82 Blast | News". The Moscow Times. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  20. "Weather And Climate - Climate Tobolsk" (in Russian). Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  21. "Climate Normals for Tobolsk". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 21, 2013.


  • Тобольская городская Дума. Решение №61 от 17 июня 2005 г. «Устав города Тобольска (в ред. от 4 апреля 2006 г.)», в ред. Решения №111 от 30 сентября 2014 г. «О внесении изменений в Устав города Тобольска». Вступил в силу в соответствии со статьёй 76. Опубликован: "Тобольская правда", №117, 30 июля 2005 г. (Tobolsk Town Duma. Resolution #61 of June 17, 2015 Charter of the Town of Tobolsk (rev. of April 4, 2006), as amended by the Resolution #111 of September 30, 2014 On Amending the Charter of the Town of Tobolsk. Effective as of the date specified in Article 76.).
  • Тюменская областная Дума. Закон №53 от 4 ноября 1996 г. «Об административно-территориальном устройстве Тюменской области», в ред. Закона №47 от 7 мая 2015 г. «О внесении изменений в статьи 14 и 15 Закона Тюменской области "Об административно-территориальном устройстве Тюменской области"». Вступил в силу с момента официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Тюменские известия", №220, 12 ноября 1996 г. (Tyumen Oblast Duma. Law #53 of November 4, 1996 On the Administrative-Territorial Structure of Tyumen Oblast, as amended by the Law #47 of May 7, 2015 On Amending Articles 14 and 15 of the Law of Tyumen Oblast "On the Administrative-Territorial Structure of Tyumen Oblast". Effective as of the moment of official publication.).
  • Тюменская областная Дума. Закон №263 от 5 ноября 2004 г. «Об установлении границ муниципальных образований Тюменской области и наделении их статусом муниципального района, городского округа и сельского поселения», в ред. Закона №39 от 7 мая 2015 г. «Об упразднении деревни Бурмистрова Балаганского сельского поселения Викуловского муниципального района Тюменской области и внесении изменений в отдельные Законы Тюменской области». Вступил в силу 1 января 2005 г. Опубликован: "Тюменская область сегодня", №213 (без приложений), 12 ноября 2004 г. (Tyumen Oblast Duma. Law #263 of November 5, 2004 On Establishing the Borders of the Municipal Formations of Tyumen Oblast and on Granting Them the Status of a Municipal District, Urban Okrug, and Rural Settlement, as amended by the Law #39 of May 7, 2015 On Abolishing the Village of Burmistrova in Balaganskoye Rural Settlement of Vikulovsky Municipal District of Tyumen Oblast and on Amending Various Laws of Tyumen Oblast. Effective as of January 1, 2005.).

Further reading

  • Brumfield, William. Tobolsk: Architectural Heritage in Photographs. Moscow: Tri Kvadrata, 2006. ISBN 5-94607-063-0

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