Irkutsk, Russia

  • Date
  • 8 August 1999

Decembrists, who revolted in December 1825, were exiled to Siberia. The Volkonsky Family House, now one of many Decembrist museums in Siberia, is where the Volkonsky family lived in a traditional Siberian wooden home (izba) with wooden gingerbread shutters, dark hardwood floors and wide wooden beams covering the ceiling.

The Volkonsky House pays tribute primarily to Maria, an aristocratic wife of one of the 22 exiled, married Decembrists. Maria opted to leave the comforts of the west and join her husband in Siberia even though the Czar and Church offered her freedom to remarry, a rarity in those days. Some of her clothes, shoes, a writing desk and music box are on display, along with portraits of 10 Decembrists’ wives lining the wall of a large upstairs room. Only 11 wives joined their exiled husbands in Siberia, and three are none to have stayed west. “What happened to the other eight women married to Decembrists?” I asked our young guide. “Who knows? They lost their places in history.”’