Tobolsk is the second oldest city east of the Urals to be settled by the Russians (after Tyumen). It was founded by Yermak’s group of Cossacks in 1590 and named after the River Tobol on which it stands. The city quickly grew in significance as Russia further expanded its borders into Siberia and it became the capital of the Siberian Governorate upon its foundation in 1719. Its importance is demonstrated by having the only kremlin in the whole of Siberia. The city’s status though declined following the opening of the Trans-Siberian Railway which bypassed Tobolsk.
Tobolsk has also played a role in important events in Russian history. Following the failed Decembrist Revolt in 1825, some of its leaders were exiled here. Grigory Rasputin was born in Pokrovskoe outside the city and in 1917 the former royal family were placed under house arrest in the governor-general’s residence.