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Tomsk is the oldest large scientific, educational and innovation center in Siberia. There are 9 universities, 15 research institutes, a special economic zone of the technical innovation type and 6 business incubators.
At the end of the 19th century, after the opening of the first university in Siberia, the widespread unofficial name of the city, “Siberian Athens”, appeared. Imperial Tomsk University was founded in 1878 and opened in 1888.
In 1896, the first higher technical educational institution in Siberia, Tomsk Technological Institute (now Tomsk Polytechnic University) was founded (opened in 1900). Tomsk universities gave the world the creator of the Soviet Mi helicopters Mikhail Mil, the creator of the Soviet Ka helicopters N.I. Kamov, the designer of the Ostankino television tower Nikolai Nikitin and many other famous designers and scientists.


On the eve of World War II, Tomsk already had the glory of the city of science and universities, every twelfth of its inhabitants was a student. Now students make up one fifth of the city’s population – hence the youthful, intellectual atmosphere..
The first technopark in the USSR and the first student business incubator in Russia were opened here.
Among the attractions of the city there are the samples of Siberian wooden architecture, but in Tomsk only wooden buildings of the late 19th - early 20th century are preserved. The traditions of wooden architecture of the Russian North, Russian baroque and classicism are enhanced by the decorativeness and ingenuity received from local and eastern peoples. Carved decor (so-called wooden laces) plays a large role in the architecture of these buildings.
Tomsk also has a very large number of monuments, some of them are quite surprising and extraordinary.