Get lost in Okolitsa
Entrance to Okolitsa
Photo by Nastya and Sarah, p2p participants
Okolitsa is a one-of-a-kind outdoor exhibit of hand-crafted wooden sculptures located in the beautiful Tomsk countryside.
Okolitsa is the first park in the Urals Village Park, located in the Zorkaltsevo countryside, about 17 kilometers from Tomsk. It spans 16 hectares and is a true open-air museum.
Okolitsa is filled with hand-carved wooden works of art created by skilled craftsmen around Russia. Some of these wooden sculptures include friendly tigers and fantastic dragons, dashing Cossack men and skillful blacksmiths, birds, ships, and military trucks and tanks, to name a few.
Okolitsa celebrates traditions of different peoples living in and around the Tomsk region. Park officials will often designate areas of the park to specific cultural groups, and during major holidays these groups will organize festive cultural events.
A Brief Historical Overview - International Festival of Axes
Since 2013, Okolitsa has served as the venue for the International Festival of Axes. For three days, skilled carpenters and wood carvers from all over the world compete in this woodworking competition that attracts tens of thousands of spectators. The festival is the most popular tourism event in the region and is aimed at reviving the traditions of Siberian wooden architecture and carpentry.
Additionally, in 2015, a small Orthodox chapel was built on the grounds of Okolitsa, following the architecture of the XVII century.
Today, the park is a favorite destination for not only tourists visiting the region but also for local citizens of Tomsk.
Various wooden sculptures found in Okolitsa
Photos by Nastya and Sarah, p2p participants
In our opinion...
A Personal Account of Okolitsa
I loved my visit to Okolitsa. I have never experienced this type of open-air museum before and found it to be much more engaging than the typical indoor museums that I’m used to. I think that the greatest advantage of this park is that it is free to the public. Visitors can come and go throughout the day and stay for however long they like. I also appreciated that Okolitsa is only a short drive from downtown Tomsk, making it an easy escape into nature for those living in the city, or even for those visiting Tomsk. The park is filled with a wide variety of intricately carved sculptures placed around wooden and stone pathways that criss-cross throughout the park. I loved that I was able to choose my own path through around the exhibits which I think also helped alleviate foot traffic. The park is fairly wooded, primarily with towering birch trees, tricking me into thinking I was in a magical fariy land and further out into the countryside than I actually was. The sculptures themselves range from dragons to bridges to balding axe-wielding men, and the park even included some interactive exhibits, such as the hand-carved see-saw which I had a great time testing out. Okolitsa really does offer something for everyone. I’m so glad that my partner Nastya picked Okolitsa for our project and that we were able to experience it during our visit to Siberia. I found it to be a fun and educational excursion that is totally unique to the Tomsk region.
The first Siberian Rural Park “Okolitsa” is an open-air museum located in Zorkaltsevo, a short distance from Tomsk. Its territory is very huge and I think you could spend half day walking around the park on its wooden path. Here you can see wonderful creations by some of the world's best carpenters. Moreover, this is a place where everyone can have a rest from daily routine and walk around the huge park area. You can touch unusual creations and can be surprised at the skills necessary to create them.
Where is Okolitsa, anyway?
- Okolitsa is free for visitors!
- It's easy to spend a long time wandering through Okolitsa, so a water bottle and even a snack or two is advised.
- There is no gift shop, so take plenty of pictures to serve as souvenirs.
- Mosquitoes like to hang out in Okolitsa. Bring some bug spray!
- Enjoy 3D excursion now!
- Central entrance;
- Main entrance;
- Area of Tomsk region;
- Competition area 1;
- Competition area 1-1;
- Main performance area;
- Tatar village;
- Summer terrace;
- Rest area;
- Extreme park;
- Chinese yard;
- Competition area 2.
Sculptures of a dwarf, Baba-Yaga, and a gnome found throughout Okolitsa
Photos by Nastya and Sarah, p2p participants
some key terms
- Rural - characteristic of the country or country life, connected with or like the countryside.
- Okolitsa - the name of the park, and our project!
- Zorkaltsevo - the name of village near Tomsk where Okolitsa is located.
- Carpenter - a person who crafts and/or repairs wooden objects and structures.
- Carver - a person who carves wood or stone, as a trade or hobby.
- Leshy - a forest spirit who regulates and assigns prey to hunters in Russian folklore.
- Baba-Yaga - an ogress who steals, cooks, and eats her victims, usually children in Russian folklore.
- Gnome - a creature, like a small man, with a pointed hat who lives under the ground and guards gold and treasure in Russian folklore.
- Dwarf - a creature, like a small man, who has magic powers and who is usually described as living and working under the ground, especially working with metal.
- Blockhouse - a building constructed of logs or squared timber.
About the Authors
Sarah is currently pursuing her master’s degree in TESL/TEFL at Colorado State University. She grew up in Middlebury, Vermont and moved to Fort Collins, Colorado in the summer of 2014. She enjoys spending time outdoors and was happy to share her favorite hiking spot (Arthur’s Rock) with the Russian team. You can find her on Facebook here.
Nastya is a first year PhD student studying Condensed Matter Physics through the Department of Natural-Science Education in the Institute of Technology at Tomsk Polytechnic University. Tomsk is her native town. She believes participation in this project will help to develop communication and organizational skills and establish friendly relations with CSU representatives. You can find her on Facebook here.
The Fairy Bridge, Okolitsa
Photos by Nastya, p2p participant; and Alexander, TPU team member